Police in northern England have arrested a man in connection with the Manchester Arena bomb attack. Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the May 22 attack an act of “sickening cowardice.” Greater Manchester police have reason to believe who the attacker was. They have arrested a 23-year-old man on Tuesday. Officials have confirmed that the blast killed 22 people, include an eight-year-old girl. Police also conducted a raid in the Whalley Range/Chorlton area in Manchester, as well as carrying out a controlled explosion after a raid in nearby Fallowfield.
 
In addition to the dead, who include children, an additional 59 people were injured by at least one explosion that happened in the foyer of the Manchester Arena, the largest such arena in Europe, which has a capacity of 21,000 people. Twelve of the injured are children under the age of 16. 
 
Prime Minister May confirmed in a press conference on Tuesday that the explosion was a terrorist attack. It was the deadliest attack since the London bombings in July 2005. May said that the incident “is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack.” At 10 Downing Street, she attacked the “appalling, sickening cowardice” of the bombing. Speaking outside Downing Street, May said: “All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks on innocent people, but this attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent, defenceless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.”
Home Secretary Amber Rudd described the bombing as a “barbaric attack” that targeted “young people, children out at a pop concert.” May conducted an emergency Cabinet meeting in the morning. She travelled to Manchester to confer with the city mayor, chief constable, and emergency services.
 
May said the city had “fallen victim to a callous terror attack, which targeted some of the youngest people in our society with cold calculation.” She said: “We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not as a scene to cherish but an opportunity for carnage. But we can continue to resolve to thwart such attacks in future, to take on and defeat the ideology that often fuels this violence. And if there turn out to be others responsible, to seek them out and bring them to justice.”
 
Queen Elizabeth issued a statement condemning the “act of barbarity,” and offered to her sympathies. “The whole nation has been shocked” by the attacks, she said.
 
Two victims have been named: Saffie Rose Roussos(8) and Georgina (18). Injured victims were taken to several local hospitals. The public has been advised to avoid downtown Manchester, while several parts of the city have been sealed off. The Victoria station on the underground, near the concert venue, has been closed.
 
Police are investigating the explosion as a possible suicide bombing, while they are seeking to identify the culprit. The Islamic State, according to online postings, claimed responsibility for the attack. Police believe the perpetrator detonated an explosive device at about 10:30 p.m. local time that had been secreted in a backpack. Manchester Royal infirmary’s emergency department was in “complete lockdown,” as police forensics officers went in and out of the hospital with plastic evidence bags. Police officers guarded the hospital’s doors, while two red signs read: “Major incident – no entry.” 
 
President Donald Trump gave a statement while in Israel, calling the terrorists “evil losers.” He has offered American assistance to the prime minister and assured her that “Americans stand with the people of the United Kingdom.”
 
The Anglican Bishop David Walker of Manchester said religious leaders of the city are united. He told BBC Radio 4, “The guilt for last night belongs to the perpetrators and the perpetrators alone – it doesn’t go beyond them.” The bishop said that the Muslim community was “one with us,” and added, “You will be part of how we together respond to last night.”  Harun Khan, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “This is horrific, this is criminal. May the perpetrators face the full weight of justice both in this life and the next.”
 
A statement from the Vatican declared, "His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack in Manchester, and he expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence.
 
"He commends the generous efforts of the emergency and security personnel, and offers the assurance of his prayers for the injured, and for all who have died.
 
"Mindful in a particular way of those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families, Pope Francis invokes God’s blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation."
 


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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