#ManchesterBlast: ISIS Claims Responsibility for Attack

MANCHESTER, England — The Islamic State claimed responsibility on Tuesday for the bombing at Manchester Arena, the deadliest terrorist assault in Britain since 2005, as the death toll rose to 22.

The bomb tore through an entrance hall of the 21,000-seat Manchester Arena at about 10:30 p.m. on Monday as a concert by the American pop star Ariana Grande was ending and as crowds of teenagers had begun to leave, many for an adjacent train station.

Pandemonium ensued, as panicked adolescents struggled to connect with parents and guardians waiting outside to pick them up. As well as those killed, dozens of other people were wounded in the attack; 59 were hospitalized, some with life-threatening injuries.
ISIS has Claimed Responsibility for the Manchester Attacks 

The police said that they were canvassing leads and poring over surveillance footage to determine if the assailant — who died in the assault — had acted with any accomplices.

Shortly before noon on Tuesday, the police announced that they had arrested a 23-year-old man southwest of the city center “with regards to last night’s incident,” but they did not provide additional details.

The British government did not make any immediate comment on the claim by the Islamic State, which said on the social messaging app Telegram that, “One of the soldiers of the Caliphate was able to place an explosive device within a gathering of the Crusaders in the city of Manchester.”

As condolences poured in from around the world, the authorities in Britain reacted with horror and anger at an attack that appeared to have targeted adolescents and their families.

“We now know that a single terrorist detonated his improvized 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,” Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain said in a televised statement.

“The explosion coincided with the conclusion of a pop concert which was attended by many young families and groups of children,” Mrs. May added.

“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 terrorist attack was the worst in the history of Manchester and northern England, and the worst in Britain since 2005, when 52 people died, along with four assailants, in coordinated attacks on London’s transit system.

“After our darkest of nights, Manchester is today waking up to the most difficult of dawns,” Mayor Andy Burnham told reporters. “These were children, young people, and their families. Those responsible chose to terrorize and kill. This was an evil act.”

Security experts suggested on Wednesday that the use of a suicide bomb in Manchester, if true, would display a level of sophistication that implied collaborators — and the possibility that other bombs had been fabricated at the same time.

“It has involved a lot of planning — it’s a bit of a step up,” said Chris Phillips, a former leader of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office in Britain. “This is a much more professional-style attack,” he told the BBC.

Another former member of the counterterrorism office, Lee Doddridge, said that “alarm bells for me are ringing at the moment because this would have appeared to have taken quite a considerable amount of planning.”

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the March 22 attack in which a British man fatally struck four pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before killing a police officer outside Parliament. Two British men, converts to Islam, were behind a May 2013 attack on a soldier, Lee Rigby, who was hacked to death outside an army barracks in southeast London.

Richard Barrett, former director of Global Counter Terrorism Operations at MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, said that the security and police forces were stretched, having to monitor more than 400 people returning from jihad in the Middle East, and 600 or so others who had tried to go but had been stopped. 

“So that’s already 1,000 people,” without taking into account other sympathizers in Britain, he said.

“It’s not that complicated to build a bomb,” Mr. Barrett told the BBC. “I’m not sure it requires someone to go to Syria to get that expertise.”

Mr. Barrett urged the authorities to engage more with the Muslim communities of Britain “to understand why people do this,” saying that information from local communities was more important in stopping terrorism than putting up barriers or bombing in the Middle East. 

“It’s about engaging the community and letting the community inform us about how to avoid attacks,” he said. “The external stuff,” he added, “is easier to do but is not protecting us.”

President Trump, speaking at a news conference in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Tuesday with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, was among the global leaders to condemn the attack, and he castigated what he called the “evil losers” responsible.

The attack came in the final stretch of campaigning before a general election in Britain on June 8, and the country’s political parties agreed to suspend campaigning on Tuesday. Opposition politicians — Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party, Tim Farron of the Liberal Democrats and Nicola Sturgeon. - New York Times

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