At about 10:30 p.m., local time, at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in the U.K., a large explosion killed 19 people and wounded at least 50 more. We know this, and at a press conference held just after 3:00 a.m. local time, Manchester police confirmed the figures as of this writing.
But that’s just about all they confirmed.
Latest statement on incident at Manchester Arena pic.twitter.com/BEpLOan3dY
— G M Police (@gmpolice) May 23, 2017
Initial reports were that police were treating this as a terrorist attack. American intelligence sources have reported to U.S. media outlets that it was the work of a suicide bomber. The New York Times called this information “unconfirmed,” but Fox News reported it as a known fact, supported by the kinds of shrapnel wounds treated by local hospitals.
It’s possible that U.K. authorities are being parsimonious with their information as they begin the quick reaction to track down the source, comrades, and others involved with the bomber before evidence trails become cold. They might not want to alert those under surveillance of what they know or don’t know.
No groups, as of this writing, have reportedly claimed responsibility for the deadly bombing. The arena was filled with young teenagers who attended the 23-year-old pop star’s world tour called “Dangerous Woman” after her 2016 album. This was, therefore, a particularly tender and innocent crowd.
Many attendees were stranded in Manchester after the train terminal was shut down for security reasons, and local residents have opened their homes to help.
At the late-night press conference, a police representative took no questions, after giving out phone numbers for those who may be stranded and require help, and for the national terrorism hot line.
Obviously, all eyes are on radical Islamic groups, as President Trump continues his visit to Israel, as the first president to travel directly from Saudi Arabia to the Jewish state, and the first to visit Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall in Jerusalem. These events may or may not be linked to this terrible and cowardly act. Authorities simply aren’t saying.
There’s no word from the White House as to whether this will have any effect on Trump’s travel plans. The president is scheduled to remain in Israel Tuesday, and travel to Rome on Wednesday, before heading to Brussels Wednesday night.
Trump has not responded personally by social media to the bombing as of this writing. Several lawmakers such as Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Ted Cruz have offered their thoughts and prayers on Twitter.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those in Manchester.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 23, 2017
Our prayers are with the people of Manchester.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 23, 2017
Young and innocent lives lost in #Manchester tonight. Praying for the victims and their families.
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) May 23, 2017
The story will surely continue to develop as U.K. and other nations’ authorities and intelligence assets around the world are brought to bear in tracking and capturing those who helped a likely suicide bomber complete his grisly act.