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An act of 'appalling, sickening cowardice'

Press Association logoPress Association 23/05/2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May has condemned the terrorist bombing in Manchester, which killed at least 22 people, including children, as an attack of "appalling, sickening cowardice".

Speaking outside Downing Street after chairing a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergency committee, May said that police and security services believed they knew the identity of the bomber, who died alongside his victims.

She said that he had chosen the time and place of his attack deliberately to cause "maximum carnage and to kill and injure indiscriminately".

May, who was later travelling to Manchester to speak to police chiefs, paid tributes to emergency workers and members of the public who rushed to help.

She said they had shown: "The spirit of Manchester and the spirit of Britain - a spirit that through years of conflict and terrorism has never been broken and will never be broken."

Police were called to reports of an explosion at the Manchester Arena at 10.33pm on Monday, shortly after the end of the performance.

Victims described being thrown by the blast, which scattered nuts and bolts across the floor. At least 59 people were wounded in the attack.

May said the attack had callously targeted children who had gathered for a concert.

"It is now beyond doubt that the people of Manchester and of this country have fallen victim to a callous terrorist attack, an attack that targeted some of the youngest people in our society with cold calculation," May said.

"This was among the worst terrorist incidents we have ever experienced in the United Kingdom, and, although it was not the first time Manchester has suffered in this way, it is the worst attack the city has experienced and the worst ever to hit the north of England."

Noting that the audience at the concert included many young children and families, the Prime Minister said: "All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks on innocent people, but this attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent defenceless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives."

May said parents and relatives of missing people would be experiencing "unimaginable worry" as she urged anyone with information relating to the attack to contact police.

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