Friday 28 July 2017

Manchester Arena suicide blast 'timed to maximise casualties, area may have been analysed in advance' - security expert

Lone male attacker detonated explosive device, killing at least 22 people including children

An injured woman is helped out of the Manchester Arena after last night’s blast at a gig by Ariana Grande, which left 19 dead
Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Police stand by a cordoned off street close to the Manchester Arena. Photo: Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Concert goers react after fleeing the Manchester Arena after the explosion.
Concert goers wait to be picked up at the scene of a suspected terrorist attack during a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in Manchester
A tweet from U.S. singer Ariana Grande is seen as she makes her first comment since a bombing at her concert in Manchester
Armed police man roadblocks outside the arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig. Photo: PA
A police officer escorts people near the Manchester Arena
Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People running down stairs as they attempt to exit the Manchester Arena after a blast
Police corden off an area close to the Box Office entrance to the Manchester Arena. Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Emergency services at the scene. Photo: PA
A police officer talks to locals outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Armed police officers stand outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
An armoured police Land Rover drives away from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
People sit by the side of the road next to a police cordon outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Still image taken from video shows a street scene near Manchester Arena after the blast
Armed police block a road near to the Manchester Arena
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

The attack at Manchester Arena which killed at least 22 people, including children, was timed to "maximise casualties" and may have been observed in advance, according to a security analyst.

Lee Doddridge, a former member of the UK’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) and now a security analyst, said he believes the attack was made at the entrance to the arena at the time people were leaving in order to maximum casualties.

Interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live, he said this so-called ‘soft target’ attack was made worse by the fact that it targeted very young children at a pop concert.

“If you want to target people then somewhere near a merchandising stand as people are leaving will achieve that,” he said.

He said there are four entrances and exits to the venue but people can be "more dispersed" as they arrive to a concert.

However, at the end people are in concentrated numbers when leaving and often stop at merchandising stands which can then mean a lot of people in one concentrated area, he said.

“There was probably reconnaissance done in the past and it wouldn’t surprise me if there are recordings of that,” he added.

“Investigators will be looking at the type of device used, forensic evidence, who the bomber was, and what was their network.

“Unfortunately it is easy to obtain the information on how to put a device together on the internet. It is feasible that this is a lone wolf but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were part of a network.

Mr Doddridge speculated that the improvised explosives used explosives were HMTD (Hexamethylene triperoxide diamine) based - a deadly mix of household and commercial chemicals including hydrogen peroxide, more commonly known as bleach.

The death toll currently stands at 22 people. There are nine people in critical condition, eight adults and one child. Three of those are in surgery this morning.

More to follow

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