World leaders condemn Manchester attack
MANCHESTER / ANKARA
REUTERS photoWorld leaders expressed shock and horror on May 23 at a suicide bombing the previous night in Manchester that killed at least 22 people, including children, as Turkey, which has suffered numerous attacks in the past two years, urged the international community to cooperate strongly against terrorism.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the bombing at a packed Manchester pop concert by U.S. star Ariana Grande. This was the deadliest terror attack in Britain for more than a decade.
Prime Minister Theresa May said the police knew the identity of the bomber, who died in the blast, saying he intended to cause “maximum carnage.”
She said he is believed to have acted alone, but police arrested a 23-year-old man early on May 23 in connection with the attack, which occurred just over two weeks before Britain holds a general election.
“One of the caliphate’s soldiers placed bombs among the crowds,” ISIL said in a statement published on its social media channels, while also threatening more attacks.
Screaming fans, many of them teenagers, fled the venue in panic after the explosion at the end of the concert by Grande in the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena in the city in England’s northwest.
“A single terrorist detonated his improvised 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,” May said after an emergency ministerial meeting.
Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos and a teenager, Georgina Callander, were among the first of the 22 victims to be confirmed.
Another 59 people were wounded, many with life-threatening injuries.
Police said the blast occurred in the foyer of the indoor arena, a covered area which links the auditorium to Victoria Station, a train and tram hub.
Families were separated, with dozens of young people taken to nearby hotels overnight, and some parents were still desperately searching for their children on yesterday.
“I’m just hearing nothing – her phone’s dead,” Charlotte Campbell, whose 15-year-old daughter Olivia was at the concert, told BBC radio.
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.
It revived memories of the November 2015 attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in which armed men wearing explosive belts stormed in and killed 90 people. That attack was also claimed by ISIL.
Grande, who is popular with teens and pre-teens, expressed her anguish following the Manchester attack.
“Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so, so sorry. I don’t have words,” the 23-year-old wrote on Twitter.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he “strongly condemned” the attack during a speech at Istanbul University.
“We share the grief of the British government and its people,” Erdoğan said.
“Like every country, I would like to stress that we stand with Britain in the fight against terrorism,” he said.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also condemned the attack during a news conference with his Georgian counterpart, Giorgi Kvirikashvili.
“We offer our condolences to our ally the United Kingdom, the victims’ families and we wish a speedy recovery to the injured. We condemn this attack in the strongest possible words,” Yıldırım said.
“We know what terrorism can do, we paid a big price because of it. Terror is a global threat and should be dealt with globally,” he added.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu condemned the attack.
Turkey will continue the determined and effective struggle carried out by its ally United Kingdom, the Foreign Ministry said.
“Thank so much for messages of condolence for #Manchester from Turkish friends. Deeply appreciated,” British Ambassador to Ankara Richard Moore said on his Twitter account.
“So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers,” U.S. President Donald Trump said during a visit to Bethlehem.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced “sorrow and horror.” “This suspected terrorist attack will only strengthen our resolve to work with our British friends against those who plan and execute such inhuman acts. I assure the people in Britain: Germany stands by your side.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was ready to boost anti-terror cooperation with Britain after “this cynical, inhuman crime.”
“We expect that those behind it will not escape the punishment they deserve,” he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron voiced “horror and shock” and said he would speak to the British prime minister.