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Manchester concert attack

UK police names 22-year-old Salman Abedi as suicide bomber suspect as they hunt possible accomplices

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 5:37am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 5:37am

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 23-year-old man in a third location.

Abedi was identified as a British citizen of Libyan descent by a European security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to comment on ongoing investigations. There was no information released on the man who was arrested.

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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.

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.

Investigators continue to hunt for possible accomplices of a suicide bomber

The attack left at least 22 dead, including an 8-year-old girl, shattering the revelry at the close of a show by American singer Ariana Grande, where strains of electric pop and the sways of innocent young fans quickly gave way to an explosion, a flood of screams and a stampede of panicked concert-goers, many clutching pink balloons and wearing the kitten-ear headbands popularised by Grande.

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 latest apparent battle-scarred target of Islamic extremists seeking to rattle daily life in the West.

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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.

Concert attack latest in string of terror strikes on British soil

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 8-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 maximise the bloodshed. People tumbled over guardrails and one another clawing toward an escape.