“Manchester is the guts and belly of the nation” – George Orwell.
Yesterday, the world woke up to the heartbreaking news that late on Monday evening, Islamic State had targeted Manchester.
The bomb, detonated at an Ariana Grande concert in the Manchester Arena, has so far claimed 22 lives, including children that were at the concert with their parents.
With the bomber being identified as 22 year old Salman Ramadan Abedi, the terror threat has been raised to critical with the Prime Minister activating “Operation Temperer”.
It has been confirmed that Abedi was known to police, but wasn’t considered a threat.
As reported by The Guardian, when delivering her conclusion Theresa May stated: “Not only that another attack remains highly likely, but a further attack may be imminent.” She further explained that she didn’t want to cause “undue alarm” but soldiers will be visible on the streets, with military personnel present at public events.
Operation Temperer, activated for the first time, will allow 5,000 troops to support the police, replacing armed officers at key sites to release them for street patrol. This is in response to the police requesting authorisation from the Secretary of State for support for their armed officers.
Ian Hopkins, Gtr Manchester Police Chief Constable said, “The priority remains to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network”.
Although the bomb, detonated in the foyer of the arena, was homemade, it is yet to be discovered whether it was built by Abedi, or given as support from other conspirators.
Senior security sources are said to be “rocked backwards” as a successful bomb plot hasn’t been executed in the UK since the London attacks in 2005.
What is more chilling, is that CCTV footage shows Abedi deliberately walking towards the foyer, detonating the bomb for maximum impact. He sent bolts and shrapnel into those surrounding him, claiming 22 lives with 64 being treated for injuries (updated figures from the Manchester Evening News).
The emergency and healthcare services were yesterday hailed as heroes for their part in dealing with the aftermath of the attack. Eight hospitals in and around Gtr Manchester are being used to treat the injured, with people working tirelessly since the attack.
Despite the catastrophic devastation this brutal attack has had on so many lives, the people of Manchester have been praised for their resilience and strength in rising together. It is not the first attack Manchester has seen, with the IRA once destroying half the city centre in 1996. The Mayor of Manchester reminded us of this yesterday, whilst stating in his speech, “This will not beat us”.
Theresa May is set to chair another Cobra meeting today (Wednesday 24th May) at 9am.