Children were among 22 killed – and multitudes injured – at the hands of a suicide bomber who detonated an improvised explosive device just as a concert with American pop star Ariana Grande was finishing Monday at the Manchester Arena in England.
The bomber has been identified as 23-year-old Salman Abedi, who was known to British authorities prior to the attack, reported CBS News.
Officials said another man was arrested Tuesday in southern Manchester in connection with the bombing.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, which strongly resembles any one of a number of recent terror bombings in Paris and other locations.
The Daily Mail reported “video footage showed thousands of people fleeing in tears from the venue, many covered in blood.”
Eyewitness Evie Brewster told the news agency: “Ariana Grande had just finished her last song and left the stage when a huge explosion sounded. Suddenly everybody started screaming and running for the exit.”
The bomber apparently never tried to get into the arena, instead blowing himself up near the lobby as concertgoers flooded out of the venue.
“We have been treating this as a terrorist incident,” Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told reporters. “Our priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.”
The performing artist Grande was uninjured, a spokesman said. Nor was Bianca Landrieu, a hiphop star also on stage during the event, hurt, according to social media.
“British Transport Police said officers were at the arena, which sits atop the Manchester Victoria transit station,” the network reported. “All lines to Manchester Victoria were closed.”
The BBC said “two loud bangs” were reported apparently in the entry area of the concert hall, which seats about 18,000.
“The BBC’s Tim Ashburn, who is at the scene, spoke to some volunteer paramedics who treated the injured for “shrapnel-like injuries,'” the report said, describing the possibility the mayhem was caused by nail bombs.
In a first-person report from the BBC’s Tom Mullen, he said: “One thing that’s apparent is there are many, many young people, some of them with parents or guardians. One mother told me her priority was simply to get her daughters home. Other people have been more candid and have described seeing people covered in blood, or being treated by paramedic. There’s still a huge sense of confusion and people are constantly searching for information while letting their families know they’re safe.”
Reuters reported supporters of ISIS celebrated the explosions on social media, with one user hoping the Islamic State was responsible.
“We hope that the perpetrator is one of the soldiers of the caliphate,” he wrote on a channel affiliated to the group.
The venue routinely features stars such as Grande, a 23-year-old U.S. pop singer.
NBC said the explosions hit about 5:40 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, which was 10:40 p.m. in England.
The Mail added a long list of reports of witnesses with similar stories: the end of the concert, a huge bang, and a sudden stampede among music fans.
Nicola McGraw Murray who was at the concert with her 12-year-old daughter Olivia told NBC News that she witnessed “a red-orange-looking flash” and heard an “incredibly loud bang.”
She added: “Within seconds, as you can imagine, it was chaos and people were panicking and running to try and get out the door … We were getting swept with the people crushing to get out and I was terrified my daughter would get crushed. At one point, she was getting dragged away from me but I managed to pull her into me and force her in front of me while trying to direct her to the door and down the steps.”
A concert-goer, identified only as Livvy, told the Mail, “We saw the explosion happen. Bits of it hit me. My first thought was, ‘that’s a bomb.'”
One man who was near the venue entrance told the Telegraph: “As I was waiting an explosion went off and it threw me through the first set of doors about 30 feet to the next set of doors. When I got up and looked around there was about 30 people scattered everywhere, some of them looked dead, they might have been unconscious but there was a lot of fatalities.
“My first thing was to run in the stadium to try and find my wife and daughter.”
He later contacted them outside the arena, he said.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump’s national security team was keeping him up to date while he is in Israel.
Speaking in Bethlehem on Tuesday, Trump blamed “evil losers” for the attack, adding that he won’t call terrorists “monsters” as “they’d think that’s a great name.”
He added: “We cannot stand for a moment longer for the slaughter of innocent people.”
Later, in a speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Trump said the thoughts and prayers of the American people were with the victims and their loved ones in Manchester.
“You’ve seen just a horrible thing going on,” the president said at the top of his speech, where he was joined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials. “Horrific, horrific injuries. Terrible. Dozens of innocent people. Beautiful young children, savagely murdered in a heinous attack upon humanity.”
The incident is Britain’s deadliest terrorist attack since four suicide bombers killed 52 London commuters on three subway trains and a bus in July 2005.