LONDON — Security is being stepped up across the U.K. following the terror attack at the Manchester Arena on Monday night that killed 22, including many children, and injured 59.
The attack was carried out by a single suicide bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi who detonated an improvised explosive device as people were exiting the venue, Europe’s largest indoor arena, following a concert by American pop star Ariana Grande.
Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said the incident is being treated as a terror attack and Manchester authorities are working closely with anti-terror police and intelligence agencies to carry out an investigation.
In a statement, British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that investigations are underway in order to establish the full details of what police were treating as “an appalling terrorist attack.” She said her thoughts were with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.
Grande took to Twitter to express her shock. “Broken. From the bottom of my heart I am so sorry. I don’t have words,” she wrote.
The attack, the second largest to hit the country after the terror incidents on July 2005, comes at a time where a number of big events are taking place across the country, such as the Chelsea Flower Show, which opens Tuesday.
As a result, the British Transport Police are increasing security at big railway stations and on trains around the country.
“Throughout the day, commuters can expect to see additional officers on their journey. This will include both armed and unarmed officers,” said a spokesman from the British Transport Police.
Designers, including Victoria Beckham, Donatella Versace, Peter Dundas, Henry Holland and Nicholas Ghesquière took to social media to express their dismay following the attack: “My heartfelt thoughts and prayers for all those effected by the tragedy in Manchester last night,” said Beckham.
Burberry did not make a statement but chose to shut its store, which is located on Manchester’s New Cathedral Street, throughout the day.
The Manchester attack was widely reported by French media, which drew parallels between the scenes of panic at the arena and the chaos of Nov. 13, 2015, when 90 people were gunned down by terrorists at the Bataclan theater in Paris. In both cases, many of the victims were young people.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said: “Tonight, #Paris stands with #Manchester. My thoughts go out to the victims and their families.”
Hidalgo also issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the Eiffel Tower would go dark from midnight in a symbolic tribute to the victims of the Manchester attack. “Faced with this blind and ongoing threat, cities have a duty to stand together,” she said.
“My first thoughts go to the many victims – these children, young people and their parents – who have been struck by terrorism. I want to let them know that the people of Paris, who have gone through a similar experience, are by their side,” Hidalgo added.
However, she said that concerts and events planned in Paris in the next few days would go ahead as planned, as they are taking place in the context of the country’s ongoing state of emergency, which imposes stringent security measures including patrols by armed soldiers.
“It’s a way of showing that we are still standing and that our way of life is unshakeable. It’s the best possible response when faced with those who are guided only by fanaticism and hate,” Hidalgo said.
New York City Governor Andrew Cuomo, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Michel Barnier, European Commission Brexit negotiator, also released statements on their Twitter accounts expressing their shock.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “London stands with Manchester – our thoughts are with all those killed and injured tonight and our brave emergency services.”
Cannes Festival representatives invited attendees to show their solidarity to the victims by observing a minute’s silence.
“The Festival de Cannes would like to express its horror, anger and immense sadness following the attack on the public and the city of Manchester last night,” said a spokesperson. “This is yet another attack on culture, youth and joyfulness, on our freedom, generosity and tolerance, all things that the Festival and those who make it possible – the artists, professionals and spectators – hold dear.”
At the start of her annual garden party held at Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth also led a minute of silence alongside the Duke of Edinburgh. Thousands of guests remained silent as they stood on the Palaces’s sprawling grounds to pay their respects with the British national anthem played at the end.
Buckingham Palace issued a statement on behalf of the Queen: “The whole nation has been shocked by the death and injury in Manchester last night of so many people, adults and children, who had just been enjoying a concert. I know I speak for everyone in expressing my deepest sympathy to all who have been affected by this dreadful event and especially to the families and friends of those who have died or were injured. I want to thank all the members of the emergency services, who have responded with such professionalism and care. And I would like to express my admiration for the way the people of Manchester have responded, with humanity and compassion, to this act of barbarity.”
Prince William shared his sentiments: “Like everyone, Catherine, Harry and I are left shocked and saddened by the tragedy that unfolded in Manchester overnight. Hundreds of friends, parents, children, and partners are confronting unimaginable grief today, and we send our thoughts to them all. We also send our thanks to the people of Manchester for their display of strength, decency, and community that is an example to the world.”
The incident also comes weeks before the June 8 general election in the U.K. May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have both confirmed plans to suspend temporarily all election campaigning following the attack.