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Manchester bombing: Condolences pour in as death toll rises

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Manchester Arena blast: one of the injured persons at the Arena

The death toll in the lone wolf bombing at the Manchester Arena has increased to 22, with 59 reported injured. Among the victims were children.

The death toll was initially put at 19 by Greater Manchester Police.

The  suicide bomber struck  Monday night as thousands of fans streamed out of a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande.

Prime Minister Theresa May called an emergency meeting with intelligence chiefs on the deadliest militant assault in Britain since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London’s transport system in July 2005.

Witnesses related the horror of the blast which prompted a stampede just as the concert ended at Europe’s largest indoor arena.

“We ran and people were screaming around us and pushing on the stairs to go outside and people were falling down, girls were crying, and we saw these women being treated by paramedics having open wounds on their legs … it was just chaos,” said Sebastian Diaz, 19.

“It was literally just a minute after it ended, the lights came on and the bomb went off,” Diaz said.

U.S. President Donald Trump described the attack as the work of “evil losers”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it “will only strengthen our resolve to…work together with our British friends against those who plan and carry out such inhumane deeds.”

Police said the attacker detonated the explosives shortly after 10:33 pm 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.

He declined to answer questions on the bomber’s identity.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said more police had been ordered onto the streets of the British capital. London’s Victoria coach station was briefly closed after discovery of a suspect package.

A source with knowledge of the situation said the bomber’s explosives were packed with metal and bolts. At least 19 of those wounded were in a critical condition, the source said.

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.”

Ariana Grande, 23, whose concerts attract a very large proportion of young women and girls, said on Twitter: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”

Other celebrities also tweeted condolences including John Legend: “Sending love to the U.K., @ArianaGrande and all of her supporters who were caught up in this awful attack. Heartbreaking.”
And Nicki Minaj says:

Prime Minister 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.

“We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack,” May said in a statement.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but U.S. officials drew parallels to the coordinated attacks in November 2015 by Islamist militants on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris, which claimed about 130 lives.

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