Absolute shock and disbelief was how the Manchester Arena bombing was described by witnesses as children enjoying a night out with their parents were targeted. Police say a male suicide bomber blew himself up as the American pop singer Ariana Grande was performing her last song on stage.
At least 22 people were murdered and children are among the dead. The attack took place at just after 10.30pm on Monday night in a public area just outside the entrance to the Manchester arena next to Victoria station.
Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of Greater Manchester Police said the 59 injured, some in critical condition, were taken to 8 hospitals in and around Manchester.
Manchester is home to the second largest Jewish community in Britain. Several terror attacks have been foiled by the security forces in the past few years, including an attack to target synagogues.
Condemnation from world leaders was swift as the number of deaths continued to rise. President Donald Trump, who was visiting Bethlehem to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told the media that “this wicked ideology must be obliterated.” He went on to say how “all innocent lives must be protected, and my thoughts are with the people of Manchester.”
Prime Minister Theresa May gave a statement outside Downing Street, where she condemned the “appalling” terrorist attack as “one of the worst terror attacks the UK had seen.” She said that the city had fallen victim to “a callous terrorist attack,” and that her thoughts and prayers were with all the victims, families and friends of those affected.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said, “Today will be a day of immense grief and pain as we mourn for those who have lost their lives in the city of Manchester. This now looks to be the worst terror attack we have suffered in nearly twelve years, and first and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims.
“The devastation of these attacks, both at home and abroad, is becoming all too familiar, but so too is the remarkable resolve with which we react to them. There are already reports of hotels providing free accommodation to young people last night and of taxis turning off their meters to get them back to their loved ones.
“This attack, intended to inflict maximum carnage on innocent young lives, is the purest evil. But our reaction defines who we are as a country. When we are attacked by hate, we respond with love. Nothing and no one can divide us.”
United Synagogue president, Stephen Pack tweeted: “The attack last night in Manchester is a corruption of every value we hold dear. Such hate-filled evil defies description. It serves only to strengthen our resolve to respond with prayers and compassion for all those affected.”
Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush said: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those caught up in the Manchester Arena attack at the Ariana Grande concert last night. This savage attack on young people will require a response, but we will not hand victory to the attacker by allowing ourselves to become divided. The response by people of all communities in Manchester, offering shelter and transport to each other, shows our society’s resilience and that terrorism will not win.”
The Jewish Weekly’s ‘Ask the Rabbi’ columnist Rabbi Schochet tweeted his condolences to the victims and their families, and he posted a picture that read, ”Those who are at war with others are not at peace with themselves.”
CST in Manchester put out a security bulletin that read, “The attack follows many warnings from police and government in recent months regarding the continuing high level of terrorist threat. This unfortunate reality demonstrates why CST works so closely with local Jewish communities, police and government in order to secure our community.”
They stressed that “There is no specific information indicating a planned attack against British Jews at this time, but all Jewish locations have been asked to ensure that security measures are fully implemented.”
Rabbi Arnold Saunders, Conservative councillor for Kersal ward in the city of Salford, and in the constituency of Blakely and Broughton, which runs to within yards of the MEN arena, said that “this was an evil atrocity, perpetrated against the citizens of greater Manchester. To target a concert full of teenagers and children is akin to Amalek, who targeted the weak. However, we must remain strong and united and must not allow these people to divide our community.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. I would like to pay tribute to our wonderful emergency services and hospital staff, as well as the members of Her Majesty’s armed forces, who gave their expertise, as well as the many volunteers who helped attend the injured or offered hospitality or help to those in need.”
Jonny Wineberg, vice president of the Jewish Representative Council, said via Twitter that his daughter was at the event and that he was so grateful that she was unharmed.
On behalf of the council, he gave a statement that said, “It is with great sadness that we respond to the terrible news from the Manchester Arena. Very few of us can begin to comprehend the horror of this event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and the families of the bereaved. This was a terrorist attack on children and young people in our city.
Our commitment is to unite and remember that Manchester is a great city made up of many communities. A city that has faced adversity over the years. A city that has always recovered because of the resilience of all its communities.
We commend the thoroughly professional work of the authorities and emergency services and the generosity of the hotels, taxi drivers and others who gave free accommodation and transport to young people last night. We remain resilient and vigilant in the face of adversity, just as we did in 1996.
Whoever has committed this atrocity does not represent any community in our city. They represent evil, hatred and despair. They will never prevail. We will respond with love.
We call on all people in our city to reach out to those whom we may see as different and ensure that they know we stand together. We stand together with all people of faith who condemn this atrocity and have sent their prayers and messages of support for Manchester.
No matter what faith, creed or nationality, we are all Manchester.”
The main political parties announced on Tuesday morning that they were now suspending their election campaign until further notice.