23rd May 2017
Terrorism: At least 22 people have been killed and 59 injured in a suspected suicide bombing at Manchester Arena. An explosion occurred near the box office and foyer at the arena in a public space towards the end of the concert by Ariana Grande at around 10:35pm on the 22 May 2017. The explosion is suspected to have been a suicide bombing however this has not yet been confirmed. Police have stated the attacker died at the scene. The police are treating the explosion as a terrorist incident. A large number of attendees at the concert are believed to have been children and young people. Hospitals in the area have reported that they are treating people for both shrapnel and crush injuries. The incident sparked a large operation by emergency services involving two separate police forces, the ambulance service, fire service, and British army bomb disposal. The police operation is ongoing in the area.
This attack is the first large-scale attack to take place in the United Kingdom since the July 7th bombings in 2005. Due to the high number of young people and children attending the concert, the attack is being viewed as particularly vicious in its targeted victims. The most recent terror attack in the United Kingdom occurred on 22 April 2017 outside the Palace of Westminster. Five people were killed in the incident and 49 reportedly injured when the attacker Khalid Masood drove a vehicle into pedestrians, and then proceeded to stab a police officer. This attack is a departure from recent lone-wolf type attacks inspired by Islamic State in the use of explosives rather than vehicles and bladed weapons, and is more in line with the kind of attack utilised by organizations such as Al Qaeda. At present, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack and further investigation will determine whether the bomber acted alone or as part of a more established network.
The type of explosive device used is currently unconfirmed; however, some US officials have made statements of the incident being a suicide bombing. Witnesses have reported seeing nuts and bolts on the floor in the vicinity of the detonation. A number of injuries and possible fatalities have been linked to the mass panic after the explosion occurred. Witnesses have reported the evacuation of the arena was poorly handled and a number of people were crushed in the ensuing stampede to evacuate the venue. The British Transport Police reported that nearby Victoria station was overwhelmed and service was severely disrupted by the rush. Greater Manchester Police have confirmed that Victoria Station will now be closed for 24 hours.
The police investigation is likely to continue for some time. Shortly after the initial incident, police carried out a controlled detonation of a suspect package as a precaution, later confirming it was a pile of abandoned clothes. The timing of the attack is significant in the run up to the 8 June 2017 General Election, the fourth anniversary of the 2013 Murder of Lee Rigby, and before the start of Ramadan. The Prime Minister has chaired a COBRA meeting on 23 May 2017 and will make a statement in due course. The current official UK terror threat level remains at Severe; however, the risk of being involved in an attack remains low.
If caught in a terror situation, travellers are advised to RUN – HIDE – TELL – FIGHT. RUN – If in a location where gunfire or explosions are heard, leave the area or building by any safe and available exit immediately. HIDE – If unable to run away, find suitable cover or barricade yourself in a room. Remember to silence your phone and turn vibrate off. TELL – Inform emergency services or alert someone who is able to do it for you. Once police arrive, comply with their instructions and do not make any sudden movements. FIGHT – As a last resort, if confronted with a gunman, it is recommended to fight back by using the element of surprise by shouting, screaming and running fast at the attacker. If sheltered with others, convince them to do the same and rush the attacker all at once. Ensure the person entering the shelter is the attacker and not law enforcement.
Travel congestion is anticipated to be significant in Manchester today, due to the closure of Victoria station and other road closures. It is recommended to check with local bus, rail and tram services this morning before travelling. Security at all important locations and transport hubs in the UK will likely be stepped up, with long delays expected. Due to this incident, travellers are advised to avoid the area in the short term, adhering to police instruction. There is likely to be an increased security presence in the area immediately surrounding the Manchester Arena. Travellers are recommended to maintain situational awareness, particularly in congested areas. Security measures are expected to be increased at high profile locations and densely populated areas. Intrinsic advises enhanced security measures in the United Kingdom are not required for travellers at present.