Suicide bomber kills at least 22 people, including children, at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester

A suicide bomber killed at least 22 people and wounded 59 at a packed concert hall in the English city of Manchester in what Prime Minister Theresa May called a sickening act targeting children and young people.

May said police believed they knew the identity of the bomber and police then said a 23-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the attack carried out late on Monday evening as people began leaving a concert given by Ariana Grande, a U.S. singer who attracts a large number of young and teenage fans.

SEE MORE: How the suspected terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester unfolded

"All acts of terrorism are cowardly...but this attack stands out for its appalling sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives," May said outside her Downing Street office in London.

"The attempt to divide us met countless acts of kindness that brought people closer together."

See photos after the attack:

35 PHOTOS
Deadly explosion at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England
See Gallery
Deadly explosion at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing, in Manchester, northern England, Britain, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Yates
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Members of the public receive treatment from emergency service staff at Victoria Railway Station close to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Police stand by a cordoned off street close to the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
Armed police officers stand near the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing, in Manchester, in northern England, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Yates
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, northwest England on May 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 23: British police guard the entrance to the Manchester Arena stadium in Manchester, United Kingdom on May 23, 2017. A large explosion was reported earlier in the evening and British police confirmed that at least 19 killed and many other wounded at American singer Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena. UK officials treating Manchester Arena explosion as possible terrorist incident (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Concert goers react after fleeing the Manchester Arena in northern England where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing in Manchester, Britain, May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Super
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Police stand by a cordoned off street close to the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Police stand by a cordoned off street close to the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Members of the public are escorted from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
A police van and an ambulance are seen outside the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing, in Manchester, northern England, Britain May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Super TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Concert goers react after fleeing the Manchester Arena in northern England where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing in Manchester, Britain, May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Super
Medics and rescuers in Manchester, Britain, deploy May 22, 2017, after reports of an explosion at the Manchester Arena. British police said early May 23 there were 'a number of confirmed fatalities' after reports of at least one explosion during a pop concert by US singer Ariana Grande. Ambulances were seen rushing to the Manchester Arena venue and police added in a statement that people should avoid the area / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Police and fans close to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Police deploy at scene of explosion in Manchester, England, on May 23, 2017 at a concert. British police said early May 23 there were 'a number of confirmed fatalities' after reports of at least one explosion during a pop concert by US singer Ariana Grande. Ambulances were seen rushing to the Manchester Arena venue and police added in a statement that people should avoid the area / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Police deploy at scene of explosion in Manchester, England, on May 23, 2017 at a concert. British police said early May 23 there were 'a number of confirmed fatalities' after reports of at least one explosion during a pop concert by US singer Ariana Grande. Ambulances were seen rushing to the Manchester Arena venue and police added in a statement that people should avoid the area / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Police and fans close to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
Police deploy at scene of explosion in Manchester, England, on May 23, 2017 at a concert. British police said early May 23 there were 'a number of confirmed fatalities' after reports of at least one explosion during a pop concert by US singer Ariana Grande. Ambulances were seen rushing to the Manchester Arena venue and police added in a statement that people should avoid the area / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Police close to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Emergency services arrive close to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
Police deploy at scene of explosion in Manchester, England, on May 23, 2017 at a concert. British police said early May 23 there were 'a number of confirmed fatalities' after reports of at least one explosion during a pop concert by US singer Ariana Grande. Ambulances were seen rushing to the Manchester Arena venue and police added in a statement that people should avoid the area / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Emergency services arrive close to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
Police set up a cordon outside the Manchester Arena in northern England where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing in Manchester, Britain, May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Super TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Police are seen outside the Manchester Arena in northern England where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing in Manchester, Britain, May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Super
Vehicles are seen near a police cordon outside the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing, in Manchester, northern England, Britain, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Yates
People sit by the side of the road next to a police cordon outside the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing, in Manchester, northern England, Britain, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Yates TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Several people killed and many injured after two explosions in Manchester Arena at the end of Ariana Grande gig… https://t.co/VnB0ozDF0Q
MORE: Police & emergency services are responding to what authorities say is a "serious incident" at Manchester Aren… https://t.co/Qa5G0K6GvD
A police officer with a sniffer dog patrols near the Manchester Arena where a suspected terrorist attack at the end of a concert by US star Ariana Grande left 19 dead.
Dawn over Manchester the morning after a suspected terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena at the end of a concert by US star Ariana Grande left 19 dead.
Police at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The northern English city remained on high alert. A Reuters witnesses said they heard a "big bang" at Manchester's Arndale shopping mall and saw people running from the building. Police said they were dealing with an incident inside. The shopping center reopened soon afterward, a Reuters witness said.

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. The Islamic State militant group has called for attacks as retaliation for Western involvement in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

SEE MORE: Video captures chaos as possible suicide bomb explodes at Ariana Grande concert

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."

U.S. President Donald Trump described the attack as the work of "evil losers". 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."

A source with knowledge of the situation said the bomber's explosives were packed with metal and bolts. At least 19 of those wounded were in a critical condition, the source said.

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.

"We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming," concert-goer Catherine Macfarlane told Reuters.

"It was a huge explosion - you could feel it in your chest."

Singer Ariana Grande, 23, said on Twitter: "broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words." May, who faces an election in two-and-a-half weeks, said her thoughts were with the victims and their families. She and Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, agreed to suspend campaigning ahead of the June 8 vote.

SUICIDE BOMBER?

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, but U.S. officials drew parallels to the coordinated attacks in November 2015 by Islamist militants on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris that killed 130 people.

"It clearly bears the hallmark of Daesh (Islamic State)," said former French intelligence agent Claude Moniquet, now a Brussels-based security consultant, "because Ariana Grande is a young singer who attracts a very young audience, teenagers.

"So very clearly the aim was to do as much harm as possible, to shock British society as much as possible."

SEE MORE: Salman Abedi Identified as Manchester Arena suicide bomber

Islamic State supporters took to social media to celebrate the blast and some encouraged similar attacks elsewhere.

Britain is on its second-highest alert level of "severe", meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely.

British counter-terrorism police have said they are making on average an arrest every day in connection with suspected terrorism.

In March, a British-born convert to Islam plowed 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 center in the center of Manchester in April 2009.

PARENTS' ANGUISH

Desperate 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.

SEE MORE: Journalist's offensive tweets about Manchester attack slammed by social media

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," she said. "There were lots of lots children at Holiday Inn."

(Additional Reporting by Alistair Smout, Kate Holton, David Milliken, Elizabeth Piper, Paul Sandle and Costas Pitas in LONDON, Mark Hosenball in LOS ANGELES, John Walcott in WASHINGTON, D.C., Leela de Kretser in NEW YORK, Mostafa Hashem in CAIRO, and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Nick Tattersall; Editing by Ralph Boulton/Mark Heinrich)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.