Prime Minister Narendra Modi has strongly condemned the terror attack in Manchester UK in which 22 people died and more than 50 were injured.
A man set off a homemade bomb in the foyer of Manchester’s MEN Arena at 22:33 BST on Monday night, at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande. The lone bomber was killed at the scene.
Armed police have since arrested a 23-year-old man in Chorlton, south Manchester, in connection with the attack. They have further executed warrants in Whalley Range and Followfield where a controlled explosion took place.
It is understood a total of sixty ambulances rushed to Manchester Arena to tend the wounded who are now being treated at eight hospitals around the city. Among them are 12 children under the age of 16.
It marks the worst terrorist attack in the UK since the July 7 bombings in 2005 in which 52 people were killed by four suicide bombers.
So-called Islamic State has said it was behind the attack, via IS channels on the messaging app Telegram.
PM Modi said in a tweet shortly after the atrocity: “Pained by the attack in Manchester. We strongly condemn it. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased & prayers with the injured.”
Meanwhile the Indian High Commission in London set up a response unit immediately following the concert blast. In a statement on Twitter the commission said: “We will activate more helplines to be of further assistance to families and friends of those affected by attack.”
In a statement from Downing Street, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “now beyond doubt that the people of Manchester and of this country have fallen victim to a callous terrorist attack” that targeted “defenceless young people”.
IndiaGB reporter Sam Pinnington was located several hundred metres from the MEN Arena at the time of the blast. He said there were chaotic scenes as thousands of people tried to escape the site.
“Even from a distance of 400 metres the explosion was so loud it was clearly a major incident. Initially it sounded like a building collapse or gas explosion. We had a clear view of Victoria Train Station, which adjoins the MEN Arena, from a balcony in the Green Quarter.
“Within seconds of the blast hundreds of people had come out of their flats and were on their balconies looking down. Alarms were triggered and a loud automated message was running on loop from the train station telling people to exit the area. On the platforms there was chaos and confusion. People were running and screaming. On the balconies people were on their phones desperately trying to find out what had happened.
“There was an immediate response from emergency services. Blue light vehicles streamed into the streets including police cars, ambulances and fire engines with a cacophony of sirens. Helicopters arrived shortly overhead. Within minutes heavy traffic quickly built up and came to a standstill. Thousands of people then poured onto the streets in all directions trying to get away from the arena.”
Other witnesses at the arena described seeing metal nuts and bolts among the debris, and spoke about the fear and confusion that gripped concert-goers. Andy Holey, who had gone to the arena to pick up his wife and daughter, said: “An explosion went off and it threw me about 30ft from one set of doors to the other set of doors.”
Emma Johnson, who went to pick up her children, aged 15 and 17, told BBC Radio Manchester: “The whole building shook. There was a blast and then a flash of fire afterwards. There were bodies everywhere.”
Teenager Abigail Walker, who was at the concert, told the BBC: “I had to make sure I had my sister. I grabbed hold of her and pulled hard. Everyone was running and crying. It was absolutely terrifying.”
As part of a broader statement delivered on Tuesday morning PM May said: “This was among the worst terrorist incidents we have ever experienced in the United Kingdom. And although it is 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.
“We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not as a scene to cherish, but as an opportunity for carnage. But we can continue to resolve to thwart such attacks in future, to take on and defeat the ideology that often fuels this violence, and if there turn out to be others responsible for this attack, to seek them out and bring them to justice.
“At terrible moments like these it is customary for leaders, politicians and others to condemn the perpetrators and declare that the terrorists will not win. But the fact that we have been here before, and the fact that we need to say this again, does not make it any less true.
“For as so often, while we experienced the worst of humanity in Manchester last night, we also saw the best. The cowardice of the attacker met the bravery of the emergency services and the people of Manchester. The attempt to divide us met countless acts of kindness that brought people closer together.
“And in the days ahead, those must be the things we remember. The images we hold in our minds should not be those of senseless slaughter, but of the ordinary men and women who put concerns about their own safety to one side and rushed to help.
“Of the men and women of the emergency services who worked tirelessly to bring comfort, to help and to save lives. Of the messages of solidarity and hope of all those who opened their homes to the victims. For they are the images that embody 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.”
Just yesterday the Indian High Commission organised a community-wide event to mark Anti-Terrorism Day, coinciding with former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s death anniversary on May 21. Speaking at the event Indian High Commissioner to the UK Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha led an anti-terrorist pledge saying: “The scourge of terrorism affects innocent lives not just in one country but across the globe. No country and no people should shelter terrorists, promote terrorists or appease terrorists.”