Daesh has claimed responsibility for a terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester that left 22 people dead, including a number of children.
A lone suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device outside Manchester Arena after the show finished last night, killing and maiming scores of innocent victims as they filed out of the venue.
An eight-year-old girl has been named as one of the victims of the attack.
In a statement released in multiple languages by its Amaq propaganda unit, Daesh said: “With Allah’s grace and support, a soldier of the Khilafah managed to place explosive devices in the midst of the gatherings of the Crusaders in the British city of Manchester, in revenge for Allah’s religion, in an endeavour to terrorise the mushrikin, and in response to their transgressions against the lands of the Muslims.
“The explosive devices were detonated in the shameless concert arena, resulting in 30 Crusaders being killed and 70 others being wounded. And what comes next will be more severe on the worshipers of the Cross and their allies, by Allah’s permission.”
Experts suggested the fact the jihadi group released a statement so soon after the incident indicates the attacker may have been in direct contact with Daesh militants before he committed the atrocity.
Officers from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) arrested a 23-year-old in the south of the city this morning in connection with the attack, while their colleagues carried out a controlled explosion said to be linked to the atrocity in the Fallowfield area of Manchester.
Speaking with reporters after chairing a meeting of the UK government’s Cobra emergency committee, British Prime Minister Theresa May said UK security services believed they know the identity of the bomber.
“It is now beyond doubt that the people of Manchester and of this country have fallen victim to a callous terrorist attack, an attack that targeted some of the youngest people in our society with cold calculation,” May said.
“This was among the worst terrorist incidents we have ever experienced in the United Kingdom, and although it is not the first time Manchester has suffered in this way, it is the worst attack the city has experienced and the worse ever to hit the north of England.”
Speaking with the BBC, former police officer and counter-terrorism expert Chris Phillips said the bomb used in the atrocity may have been packed with nuts and bolts to cause maximum damage to victims.
Elsewhere, Times Chief Reporter Sean O’Neill asks whether the perpetrator may have had links with Daesh fighters who have recently returned to the UK after the fall of the group’s so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq.
It is estimated that some 350 British jihadists have already returned from the Middle East, where they learned battlefield techniques security services fear could be used to attack civilians on the streets of the UK.