MS Risk Blog

Manchester Terror Attack Update

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Manchester Terror Attack

On Monday 22 May, twenty-two people were killed and a further 64 were injured in a suicide bombing at Manchester Arena, at the end of a concert by American singer Ariana Grande. A number of people remain missing. Monday’s attack is the worst terrorist attack to take place in the UK since the 7 July 2005 bombings, in which 52 people were killed by four suicide bombers.

According to officials, a man set off a homemade bomb in the foyer at 22:33 BST on Monday. The explosion occurred near the entrance to Victoria railway and tram station. The station has since been closed and all trains have been cancelled. The so-called Islamic State (IS) group has said, via IS channels on the messaging app Telegram, that it was behind the Manchester attack, however this has not yet been verified.

On Tuesday, police confirmed the arrest of a 23-year-old man in Chorlton, south Manchester, in connection with the attack, with British authorities identifying the suspected suicide bomber as Salman Abedi. The following day, Home Secretary Amber Rudd disclosed that Abedi was “likely” to have not acted alone as reports emerged that three men were arrested in Manchester. Abedi’s 23-year-old brother was arrested on Tuesday. It has been reported that Salman Abedi had already been on the radar of the British security services.

The UK threat level is now up on its highest level of “critical,” – meaning that more attacks may be imminent. This means that military personnel will be deployed to protect key sites. Prime Minister Theresa May has disclosed that soldiers will be placed in key public locations to support armed police in protecting the public, these include Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, embassies and the Palace of Westminster, which has been closed to the public following police advice and will not re-open until further notice, a statement on its website said. Military personnel may also be seen at other events over the coming weeks, such as concerts, and the will be working under the command of police officers.

The UK threat level has been judged to be severe for nearly three years – effectively meaning that an attack is considered highly like. In recent months however the temps of counter-terrorist activity has increased, with the BBC reporting that on average an arrest has been made every day. In the wake of the attack in Westminster in Mach 2017, which was carried out by Khalid Masood, police and security officials have been warning that further attacks were almost inevitable. However they also believed that those were more likely to be low-tech, involving knives and vehicles. The fact that the Manchester attack involved explosives is worrying. Furthermore, while it may not have been at the level of complexity seen in Paris in 2015, when multiple attackers sent from Syria used guns and suicide belts, security officials will now have to acknowledge the seriousness of this threat.