At least 22 people, including some children, were killed and 59 wounded when a suicide bomber struck as thousands of fans streamed out of a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in the English city of Manchester on Monday.
Prime Minister Theresa May said the incident was being treated as a terrorist attack, making it the deadliest militant assault in Britain since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London’s transport system in July 2005.
Police said the attacker detonated the explosives shortly after 10:33 pm (2133 GMT) at Manchester Arena, which has the capacity to hold 21,000 people. Children were among the dead, police said.
“We believe, at this stage, the attack last night was conducted by one man,” Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told reporters. “The priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.
“We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated causing this atrocity,” said Hopkins, who declined to answer questions about whether the attacker was British.
A witness who attended the concert said she felt a huge blast as she was leaving the arena, followed by screaming and a rush by thousands of people trying to escape the building.
A video posted on Twitter showed fans, many of them young, screaming and running from the venue. Dozens of parents frantically searched for their children, posting photos and pleading for information on social media.
“We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming,” concert-goer Catherine Macfarlane told Reuters.
“It was a huge explosion – you could feel it in your chest. It was chaotic. Everybody was running and screaming and just trying to get out.”
Ariana Grande, 23, later said on Twitter: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.” May, who faces an election in two-and-a-half weeks, said her thoughts were with the victims and their families. She and Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, agreed to suspend campaigning ahead of the June 8 election.