United Kingdom: Deadly attack at pop concert in Manchester

At least 22 concertgoers have been reported killed and 59 more injured, among them children and teenagers, when a lone male detonated an explosive device after US singer Ariana Grande’s music concert ended at Manchester Arena in England, reported BBC on 23 May 2017.

Freemuse is deeply saddened by the attack in Manchester and offers its condolences to those affected.

“We condemn the recent attack on the concert and young concertgoers in Manchester in the strongest possible terms,” said Freemuse Executive Director Srirak Plipat. “Freemuse calls for a thorough and impartial investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice. Targeting artists and audiences is a cowardly act that will never succeed in silencing artistic expressions and cultural life.”

The explosion occurred around 22:35 BST in the foyer of the venue at the exit that connects the arena to the entrance of the Victoria train and tram station. The blast, which police are treating as a “terrorist attack” happened just after the singer left the stage of the sold-out, 21,000-capacity arena, many of whom were children, teenagers and young fans of the singer.

“People have the right to enjoy cultural events, including concerts, without fear. The government must do more to ensure that their rights are better protected, including adopting effective, preventive measures against radicalization and promoting tolerance in society,” Plipat said.


Investigation ongoing
Witnesses quoted by The Guardian said they heard a loud noise, followed by some screams and then silence, before people began frantically trampling over each other to get to the exits, while those closest to the explosion ran back toward the inside of the venue.

In response to the attack, singer Ariana Grande tweeted: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so sorry. i don’t have words.”

“We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe, at this stage, the attack last night was conducted by one man. The priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network,” said Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of the Greater Manchester Police. “The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated causing this atrocity.”

The BBC reported that the so-called Islamic State has said it was behind the attack.


Recalling Bataclan in Paris
The attack in Manchester recalls the horrific attack in Paris on 13 November 2015 at popular music venue Bataclan when armed men killed 89 concertgoers and took some hostage while US rock band Eagles of Death Metal were playing on stage.

On 27 April 2017, a teenager plead guilty to plotting a bomb attack in London with one of the possible targets being an Elton John concert that was scheduled on the anniversary of the Twin Towers attack in 2001 in New York. The teenager was caught “researching, planning and attempting to source” materials to make explosives while communicating with British Secret Service officers online who were posing as fellow extremists, reported The Guardian on 27 April 2017.


Photo: Manchester Arena/Wikicommons


Sources

» BBC – 23 May 2017
Manchester attack: 22 dead and 59 hurt in suicide bombing

» BBC – 23 May 2017
Manchester Arena attack: 22 dead and 59 hurt

» The Guardian – 23 May 2017
From a balloon pop to a suicide bomb: Witnesses in Manchester recount a night of horror

» The New York Times – 22 May 2017
Manchester Arena explosion: What we know and don’t know

» The New York Times – 22 May 2017
Ariana Grande Manchester concert ends in explosion, panic and death

» Twitter – 22 May 2017
Ariana Grande tweet

» The Guardian – 27 April 2017
Man plotted attacks on Buckingham Palace and Elton John concert


More from Freemuse

» 26 October 2016: Freemuse report on the effects of terror on arts and culture

» 26 November 2015: France post-November 13: Musicians shocked but defiant

» 14 November 2015: France: Deadly terror attack at rock concert in Paris

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