Saturday 23 September 2017

Manchester suicide bomber confirmed as 22-year-old Salman Abedi

Scenes at the Vigil in Albert Square in the Center of Manchester for the bombing victims Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Scenes at the Vigil in Albert Square in the Center of Manchester for the bombing victims Photo: Kyran O'Brien
People gather ahead of a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester, after a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the Manchester concert bomb attack. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Flowers are left in St Ann's Square, Manchester, the day after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, as an explosion tore through fans leaving a pop concert in Manchester. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Armed police close to the Manchester Arena, the morning after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, as an explosion tore through fans leaving a pop concert in Manchester. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Scenes at the Vigil in Albert Square in the Center of Manchester for the bombing victims. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Police stand by a cordoned off street close to the Manchester Arena. Photo: Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Injured concert-goers outside Manchester Arena
Police at Manchester Arena after reports of the explosion during the Ariana Grande concert. Inset: Armed police at the scene
Emergency services at Victoria Railway Station, close to the Manchester Arena. Photo: Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Police and fans close to the Manchester Arena. Photo: Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Police corden off an area close to the Box Office entrance to the Manchester Arena. Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images
A police officer stands outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
A police officer talks to locals outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Armed police officers stand outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Police and fans close to the Manchester Arena. Photo: Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Emergency services at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A suicide bomber that killed at least 22 people and wounded 59 at a packed concert hall in Manchester has been confirmed as 22-year-old Salman Abedi.

Born in Manchester in 1994, the second youngest of four children his parents were Libyan refugees who came to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime, according to the Telegraph.

His mother, Samia Tabbal (50) and father, Ramadan Abedi, a security officer, were both born in Libya but appear to have emigrated to London before moving to the Fallowfield area of south Manchester where they have lived for at least ten years.

The death toll in the aftermath of the bombing has risen to 22, as Georgina Bethany Callander (18), Saffie Rose Roussos (8) and John Atkinson (26)  are among the first victims named.

Twelve children under the age of 16 were among the 59 casualties taken to hospital after the terror attack at Manchester Arena, David Ratcliffe, medical director of North West Ambulance Service has said.

The so-called Islamic State terror group have now claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Islamic State, now being driven from territories in Syria and Iraq by Western-backed armed forces, claimed the attack as revenge against "Crusaders". But Western experts were sceptical, noting it had offered two accounts of the attack partly contradicting each other and the British police version.

Latest police statement from Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins at 17.20

"Can I start by once again passing on our heartfelt sympathies to all the innocent people caught up in last night's despicable act.

"We now have a team of specially-trained Family Liaison Officers who are supporting families.

"There has been much speculation and names of those who may have been killed in the media and social media. We accept that this is inevitable however we ask that people allow the police and coroner to release the names once the families are ready and appropriately supported.

"As you would expect the police response to this across Greater Manchester has been significant as we support people to go about their daily business.

"Part of this response has seen us arrest a 23-year-old man in connection with the attack and we have also carried out two warrants, one in Whalley Range and one in Fallowfield that included a controlled explosion to enable safe entry.

"We understand that feelings are very raw right now and people are bound to be looking for answers. However, now, more than ever, it is vital that our diverse communities in Greater Manchester stand together and do not tolerate hate.

"We have been visited by the Prime Minster and Home Secretary and we have taken them through the emergency response so far and what we plan to do in future days.

"I can confirm that the man suspected of carrying out last night's atrocity has been named as 22-year-old Salman Abedi. However, he has not yet been formally identified and I wouldn't wish, therefore, to comment further.

"The priority remains to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network."

Raid

Armed officers raided the address of the bombing suspect, ordering residents indoors as they carried out a controlled explosion.

Elsmore Road, where Abedi was registered as living, became the centre of the investigation into Monday's outrage as detectives hunted those thought to be behind the blast.

The suspect was named by US security services in Washington, as those who live on the red-bricked semi-detached street said they know little about those who reside at the address.

Greater Manchester Police said a controlled explosion was carried out at the Fallowfield address at around lunchtime on Tuesday.

It came as a 23-year-old man was also arrested by plain-clothed police officers on Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, over the deadly bombing.

Greater Manchester Police said they also executed a search warrant at a property in Whalley Range, a mile from the other address.

Officers stood guard outside the entrance of the four-storey building while more uniformed police and detectives in suits could be seen entering the property, with their activity centred on a flat inside.

In a statement made outside her Downing Street offices after a meeting with security and intelligence chiefs earlier, May said police believed they knew the identity of the bomber.

"All acts of terrorism are cowardly," she said. "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."

She said security services were working to see if a wider group was involved in the attack, which fell less than three weeks before a national election.

British police moved quickly, arresting a 23-year-old man in connection with Monday night's bombing, carried out as crowds began leaving a concert given by Ariana Grande, a U.S. singer who attracts a large number of young and teenage fans.

They also raided a property in the district of Fallowfield where they carried out a controlled explosion. Witnesses in the Whalley Range district said armed police had surrounded a newly-built apartment block on a usually quiet tree-lined street.

The northern English city remained on high alert, with additional armed police drafted in. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said more police had been ordered onto the streets of the British capital.

Monday's attack was the deadliest in Britain since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London's transport system in 2005. But it will have reverberations far beyond British shores.

Attacks in cities including Paris, Nice, Brussels, St Petersburg, Berlin and London have shocked Europeans already anxious over security challenges from mass immigration and pockets of domestic Islamist radicalism. Islamic State has repeatedly called for attacks as retaliation for Western involvement in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Witnesses related the horror of the Manchester blast, which unleashed a stampede just as the concert ended at what is Europe's largest indoor arena, full to a capacity of 21,000.

"We ran and people were screaming around us and pushing on the stairs to go outside and people were falling down, girls were crying, and we saw these women being treated by paramedics having open wounds on their legs ... it was just chaos," said Sebastian Diaz, 19. "It was literally just a minute after it ended, the lights came on and the bomb went off." A video posted on Twitter showed fans, many of them young, screaming and running from the venue. Dozens of parents frantically searched for their children, posting photos and pleading for information on social media.

World leaders expressed support for Britain

U.S. President Donald Trump spoke with May by telephone and agreed the attack was "particularly wanton and depraved", the White House said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it "will only strengthen our resolve to...work with our British friends against those who plan and carry out such inhumane deeds".

The singer giving the concert, Ariana Grande, 23, said on Twitter: "broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words."

Islamic State, while claiming responsibility on its Telegram account, appeared to contradict British police's description of a suicide bomber. It suggested explosive devices were placed "in the midst of the gatherings of the Crusaders".

"What comes next will be more severe on the worshippers of the cross," the Telegram posting said.

It did not name the bomber, which it usually does in attacks it has ordered, and appeared also to contradict a posting on another Islamic State account, Amaq, which spoke of "a group of attackers". That reference, however, was later removed.

"It clearly bears the hallmark of Daesh (Islamic State)," said former French intelligence agent Claude Moniquet, now a Brussels-based security consultant, "Very clearly the aim was to do as much harm as possible, to shock British society as much as possible."

In March, a British-born convert to Islam ploughed a car into pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge, killing four people before stabbing to death a police officer who was on the grounds of parliament. The man was shot dead at the scene.

In 2015, Pakistani student Abid Naseer was convicted in a U.S. court of conspiring with al Qaeda to blow up the Arndale shopping centre in the centre of Manchester in April 2009.

Parent's anguish

Parents and friends used social media to search for loved ones who attended Monday's concert while the wounded were being treated at six hospitals across Manchester.

"Everyone pls share this, my little sister Emma was at the Ari concert tonight in #Manchester and she isn't answering her phone, pls help me," said one message posted alongside a picture of a blonde girl with flowers in her hair.

Paula Robinson, 48, from West Dalton about 40 miles east of Manchester, said she was at the train station next to the arena with her husband when she felt the explosion and saw dozens of teenage girls screaming and running away from arena.

"We ran out," Robinson told Reuters. "It was literally seconds after the explosion. I got the teens to run with me."

Robinson took dozens of teenage girls to the nearby Holiday Inn Express hotel and tweeted out her phone number to worried parents, telling them to meet her there. She said her phone had not stopped ringing since her tweet.

"Parents were frantic running about trying to get to their children. There were lots of lots of children at the Holiday Inn."

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