British Prime Minister Theresa May has called Monday’s suicide bombing in Manchester a “callous terrorist attack”, one of the worst ever experienced in the country.
She confirmed 22 people were killed – in addition to the suicide bomber. Another 59 people have been wounded, many of them children and many suffering life-threatening injuries. They are being treated in eight hospitals across the country.
“We know now that a single terrorist detonated is improvised explosive device near one of the exits of the venue, deliberately choosing the time and place to cause maximum carnage and to kill and injure indiscriminately,” May told reporters.
“All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks on innocent people, but this attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.”
The self-styled Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was carried out with an explosive device planted at the concert, according to a statement the group posted on Telegram.
May said police believe they have identified the attacker but at this stage of the investigation they won’t reveal his identity. They are trying to find out whether he was acting on his own or as part of a wider network, she said.
The terror threat level across the UK remains at “severe” – i.e. unchanged for now – but it will be reassessed today and throughout the week based on the latest security intelligence.
May said she would chair another Cobra meeting later on Tuesday, and travel to Manchester to meet with local officials and emergency services.
While Manchester experienced “the worst of humanity” on Monday night, it also saw the best, said May praising locals for their “countless acts of kindness” in the wake of the attack – opening their doors to fleeing concert-goers and looking after the victims of the bombing.