The night the mu­sic died: Con­cert sui­cide bomber named

Po­lice hunt for ac­com­plices; Bri­tish PM warns of a pos­si­ble new at­tack

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - JILL LAWLESS, ROB HARRIS AND SYLVIA HUI

MANCH­ESTER, ENG­LAND — As in­ves­ti­ga­tors hunted for pos­si­ble ac­com­plices of a sui­cide bomber, thou­sands of peo­ple poured into the streets of Manch­ester in a vigil Tues­day for vic­tims of a blast that bathed a pop con­cert in blood.

The at­tack shat­tered the rev­elry at the close of a show by Amer­i­can singer Ari­ana Grande and left at least 22 dead, in­clud­ing an eight-year-old girl.

Strains of elec­tric pop and the sways of in­no­cent young fans quickly gave way to a flood of screams and a stam­pede of pan­icked con­cert-go­ers, many clutch­ing pink bal­loons and wear­ing the kit­ten-ear head­bands pop­u­lar­ized by Grande.

“We strug­gle to com­pre­hend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young chil­dren not as a scene to cher­ish but as an op­por­tu­nity for car­nage,” said Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May.

May said Bri­tain’s ter­ror threat level had been

raised to crit­i­cal — mean­ing another at­tack may be im­mi­nent.

The sta­tus means armed sol­diers could be de­ployed in­stead of po­lice at pub­lic events in­clud­ing sports matches.

The threat level had been at the sec­ond-high­est run of “se­vere” for sev­eral years.

The Is­lamic State group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the hor­ror, which also wounded 59 peo­ple, though a top Amer­i­can in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cial said the as­ser­tion could not be ver­i­fied.

Manch­ester Po­lice Chief Ian Hop­kins iden­ti­fied the bomber as 22-year-old Sal­man Abedi, who author­i­ties said died in the at­tack. Po­lice raided two sites in the north­ern English city, set­ting off a con­trolled ex­plo­sion in one, and ar­rest­ing a 23year-old man at a third lo­ca­tion.

May said Abedi was born and raised in Bri­tain. A Euro­pean se­cu­rity of­fi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to com­ment on on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions, said Abedi was of Libyan de­scent. There was no in­for­ma­tion re­leased on the man who was ar­rested.

At least 20 heav­ily armed, hel­meted po­lice sur­rounded a mod­est red brick house listed as Abedi’s ad­dress in a mixed Manch­ester sub­urb at mid­day on Tues­day and blasted down the door.

“It was so quick. Th­ese cars just pulled up and all th­ese po­lice with guns, dogs, jumped out of the car and said to us: ‘Get in the house now,’” said Si­mon Turner, 46, who lives nearby. Later, foren­sic of­fi­cers in white cov­er­alls were seen go­ing in and out of the prop­erty.

De­tails on Abedi were slow to trickle out. He was de­scribed by neigh­bours as a tall, thin young man who of­ten wore tra­di­tional Is­lamic dress, but few said they knew him well.

Alan Kin­sey, 52, who lives across the street, said his neigh­bour would of­ten get picked up by another young man in a Toy­ota and of­ten re­turned late at night.

“I thought he worked in a take­away or some­thing” be­cause of his late hours, Kin­sey said.

Po­lice also searched an apart­ment in a nearby area that Bri­tish me­dia re­ported be­longed to Abedi’s brother, Is­mail.

Late Tues­day, thou­sands of peo­ple, some hold­ing up signs pro­claim­ing “I Love MCR” — an ab­bre­vi­a­tion for Manch­ester — held a mo­ment of si­lence at a vigil for the vic­tims.

Lord Mayor Eddy Newman and the city’s po­lice chief were among the speak­ers in front of City Hall in Al­bert Square. A ban­ner with a web­site for a Mus­lim group said “Love for all, Ha­tred for None.”

Mon­day’s bomb­ing made Manch­ester Arena, one of the largest in­door con­cert venues in Europe, the lat­est ap­par­ent tar­get of Is­lamic ex­trem­ists strik­ing at the heart of Western cul­ture, an ide­ol­ogy baf­fling to the pan­icked young faces emerg­ing from the con­cert.

Among those con­firmed killed was Ge­orgina Cal­lan­der, whose death was re­ported by her former school, which posted a photo of her in her school uni­form on its web­site and de­scribed her as a “lovely” and “very pop­u­lar” young woman.

Also killed was eight-year-old Saffie Rous­sos, who a teacher called “sim­ply a beau­ti­ful lit­tle girl in ev­ery as­pect of the word” who was warm, kind, “and unas­sum­ing, with a cre­ative flair.”

Be­sides the dead, the wounded in­cluded at least 12 chil­dren un­der the age of 16, hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials said.

Grande, who was not in­jured in the blast, tweeted: “bro­ken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”

The bomb­ing took place af­ter Grande closed the show with “Dan­ger­ous Woman” and left the stage and the au­di­ence streamed to­ward the city’s main train sta­tion.

It scat­tered bolts and other metal scraps, ap­par­ently in­tended to max­i­mize the blood­shed. Peo­ple tum­bled over guardrails and one another claw­ing to­ward an es­cape.

“There was this mas­sive bang. And then ev­ery­one just went re­ally quiet. And that’s when the scream­ing started,” said 25-year-old Ryan Mol­loy. “As we came out­side to Vic­to­ria Sta­tion, there were just peo­ple all over the floor cov­ered in blood.”

The at­tack sparked a night­long search for loved-ones — par­ents for the chil­dren they had ac­com­pa­nied or had been wait­ing to pick up, and friends for each other af­ter groups were scat­tered by the blast. Twit­ter and Face­book lit up with heart­break­ing ap­peals for the miss­ing.

“I’ve called the hos­pi­tals. I’ve called all the places, the ho­tels where peo­ple said that chil­dren have been taken and I’ve called the po­lice,” Char­lotte Camp­bell tear­fully told ITV tele­vi­sion’s Good Morn­ing Bri­tain breakfast show. Camp­bell’s 15-year-old daugh­ter, Olivia, had at­tended the show with a friend who was wounded and be­ing treated in a hos­pi­tal.

“She’s not turned up,” Camp­bell said of her daugh­ter. “We can’t get through to her.”

Hayley Lunt, who brought her 10year-old daugh­ter Abi­gail to the show, her very first con­cert, said they ran as fast as they could once the ex­plo­sions rang out.

“What should have been a su­perb even­ing,” Lunt said, “is now just hor­ri­ble.”

Some con­cert-go­ers said se­cu­rity had been hap­haz­ard be­fore the show, with some peo­ple be­ing searched and oth­ers not. How­ever, author­i­ties would not say whether the bomber blew him­self up in­side or out­side the arena, so it wasn’t clear if rig­or­ous bag screen­ing or ad­di­tional se­cu­rity would have helped pre­vent the deaths and in­juries. The venue tweeted on Mon­day night that it hap­pened “out­side the venue in a pub­lic space.”

Around the United King­dom and across Europe, the at­tack brought fear and mourn­ing.

At Buck­ing­ham Palace, Queen El­iz­a­beth II marked a mo­ment of si­lence along her hus­band Prince Philip as well as Prince Charles and his wife Camilla.

In Rome, the lights of the Colos­seum and Trevi Foun­tain were dark­ened.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, on a visit to the West Bank city of Beth­le­hem, called the per­pe­tra­tors “evil losers” and said “this wicked ide­ol­ogy must be oblit­er­ated.”

The at­tack was the dead­li­est in Bri­tain since four sui­cide bombers killed 52 Lon­don com­muters on sub­way trains and a bus in 2005.

Is­lamic State’s claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity echoed oth­ers it has made for at­tacks in the West but with vague de­tails that left open the pos­si­bil­ity it was an op­por­tunis­tic at­tempt at pro­pa­ganda.

Manch­ester it­self has seen ter­ror be­fore, but not this deadly.

The city was hit by a huge Ir­ish Repub­li­can Army bomb in 1996 that lev­elled a swath of the city cen­tre. More than 200 peo­ple were in­jured, but no one killed.

The bomb­ing also elicited painful me­mories of the 2015 ter­ror at­tacks in Paris, where most of the 130 killed were at the Bat­a­clan con­cert hall.

PHO­TOS BY KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Peo­ple lay flow­ers ahead of a vigil in Al­bert Square, Manch­ester, on Tues­day, the day af­ter the sui­cide at­tack at an Ari­ana Grande con­cert that left 22 peo­ple dead.

Shocked peo­ple at­tend a vigil in Al­bert Square, Manch­ester on Tues­day and grieve for the in­no­cent vic­tims who died.

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