“We were so scared, but my friends and I just ran to our car.”

— Malaysian woman who was at the Ari­ana Grande con­cert.

New Straits Times - - Front Page - MANCH­ESTER

THE Is­lamic State yes­ter­day claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for a bomb­ing in Manch­ester that killed 22 peo­ple, in­clud­ing chil­dren, at a con­cert by United States artiste Ari­ana Grande in Bri­tain’s dead­li­est at­tack in 12 years.

In a state­ment pub­lished on its so­cial me­dia chan­nels, IS said “one of the caliphate’s sol­diers placed bombs among the crowds”, and threat­ened more at­tacks.

The group’s self-styled news agency Amaq sep­a­rately claimed “a se­cu­rity squad” car­ried out the at­tack.

United States of­fi­cials who had been in con­tact with Bri­tish author­i­ties said the sus­pect had been iden­ti­fied as Sal­man Abedi, or Sal­man Ra­madan Abedi, and was be­lieved to have trav­elled to Manch­ester from Lon­don by train.

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May said he in­tended to cause “max­i­mum car­nage”.

She said he was be­lieved to have acted alone, but po­lice ar­rested a 23-year-old man yes­ter­day morn­ing in con­nec­tion with the at­tack, which oc­curred just over two weeks be­fore Bri­tain holds a gen­eral elec­tion.

May con­demned the “ap­palling ter­ror­ist at­tack” and sus­pended her cam­paign ahead of a gen­eral elec­tion on June 8 along with op­po­si­tion leader Jeremy Cor­byn.

“All our thoughts are with the vic­tims and the fam­i­lies of those who have been af­fected,” said May.

Scream­ing fans, many of them

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teens, fled in panic af­ter the bomb blast at the end of the con­cert in the north­ern English city on Mon­day even­ing.

“There was heat on my neck and when I looked up there were bodies ev­ery­where,” Elena Semino, who was wait­ing for her 17year-old daugh­ter, told The Guardian news­pa­per.

Semino, who was in­jured, said she had been stand­ing by the ticket of­fice of the 21,000-ca­pac­ity in­door Manch­ester Arena when the ex­plo­sion went off.

“A huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely pan­icked ev­ery­one, and we were all try­ing to flee the arena,” said Ma­jid Khan, 22, who was at the show with his sis­ter.

Am­bu­lances and bomb dis­posal teams rushed to the venue, as fam­ily mem­bers fran­ti­cally searched for their loved ones, and res­i­dents opened their doors to stranded con­cert-go­ers af­ter trains were can­celled.

There were chil­dren among the 22 killed in the at­tack, while 59 peo­ple were in­jured, Greater Manch­ester Po­lice chief Ian Hop­kins said yes­ter­day.

The at­tack was the dead­li­est in Bri­tain since July 7, 2005, when four sui­cide bombers in­spired by al-Qaeda at­tacked Lon­don’s trans­port sys­tem dur­ing rush hour, killing 52 peo­ple and wound­ing 700 more.

The Manch­ester blast re­called the Novem­ber 2015 at­tack at the Bat­a­clan con­cert hall in Paris in which armed men wear­ing ex­plo­sive belts stormed in and killed 90 peo­ple. The at­tack was also claimed by IS.

Po­lice were called to the scene at the Manch­ester Arena con­cert and sports venue at 10.30pm.

Manch­ester Arena said the blast “took place out­side the venue in a pub­lic space”, while po­lice said it was “within the foyer area of the sta­dium”.

The foyer con­nects the au­di­to­rium with Vic­to­ria train and tram sta­tion, a ma­jor trans­port hub on the north­ern edge of the city cen­tre.

One wit­ness, Gary Walker, told BBC Ra­dio 5 Live that he was hit by shrap­nel in the foot and his wife sus­tained a stom­ach wound as they waited for their daugh­ters.

“We heard the last song and sud­denly there was a mas­sive flash and then a bang and smoke.”

Is­abel Hod­gins, an ac­tress who was at the con­cert, told Sky News: “Ev­ery­body was pan­ick­ing, there was push­ing up the stairs. The cor­ri­dor was full. It smelled of burn­ing. There was quite a lot of smoke as we were leav­ing.

“It’s shock­ing and we feel very shaken up. We’re just lucky to have got­ten away safely.”

Calvin Wels­ford, 18, from Bris­tol, told BBC: “It al­most sounded like a gun­shot.

“I looked around and peo­ple were just spilling down, head­ing out of the build­ing. I was ac­tu­ally hav­ing an asthma at­tack. It was sheer panic.”

Hop­kins said in­ves­ti­ga­tors were “work­ing closely with the na­tional coun­tert­er­ror­ism polic­ing net­work and UK in­tel­li­gence part­ners”.

The US De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, Bri­tain’s big­gest in­tel­li­gence part­ner, said it was “closely mon­i­tor­ing” the sit­u­a­tion.

“We are work­ing with our for­eign coun­ter­parts to ob­tain ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion about the cause of the re­ported ex­plo­sion as well as the ex­tent of in­juries and fa­tal­i­ties,” it said.

Trib­utes poured in for Manch­ester from around the world.

Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said Cana­di­ans were “shocked by the news of the hor­rific at­tack”, while Euro­pean Union pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk said “my heart is in Manch­ester this night”.

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron said he was “hor­ri­fied” by the at­tack.

The pop world ral­lied, with Katy Perry tweet­ing: “Pray­ing for ev­ery­one at Ari­ana Grande’s show.”

Pop princess Tay­lor Swift, a friend of Grande, wrote: “My thoughts, prayers and tears for all those af­fected by the Manch­ester tragedy tonight.”

Manch­ester res­i­dents tweeted with the hash­tag #RoomforManch­ester to of­fer peo­ple who were stranded a place to stay and there were re­ports of taxis tak­ing pas­sen­gers for free.

“We have a spare dou­ble bed and two so­fas avail­able if any­body needs a place tonight,” tweeted @iamjesyrae.

Con­cerned rel­a­tives used the hash­tag #Miss­inginManch­ester to lo­cate loved ones.

Train ser­vices to and from Manch­ester Vic­to­ria Sta­tion, which is un­der the arena, were can­celled.

Page 1 pic: Helpers at­tend­ing to in­jured vic­tims at the Manch­ester Arena af­ter the blast on Mon­day night. AP PIC

I looked around and peo­ple were just spilling down, head­ing out of the build­ing. I was ac­tu­ally hav­ing an asthma at­tack. It was sheer panic.

CALVIN WELS­FORD, 18

Con­cert-goer

AP PIC

Peo­ple run­ning through Manch­ester Vic­to­ria Sta­tion af­ter an ex­plo­sion at Manch­ester Arena on Mon­day night.

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