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Islamic State claims first suicide attack in Somalia, kills 5

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Islamic State claims first suicide attack in Somalia, kills 5

Posted on 24 May 2017 by GGS News

Mogadishu : The Islamic State group has claimed its first suicide attack in Somalia, which police said Wednesday killed five people at a checkpoint in the northeastern port city of Bosaso.

The group`s self-styled news agency Amaq claimed the “martyrdom-seeking operation with an explosive vest” in a statement carried by the SITE Intelligence Group.

The suicide bomber detonated his explosives vest at a checkpoint late Tuesday in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.”Security forces stopped the suspect when he approached but he detonated himself leaving five people dead. One of the security officers and four civilians were killed in the blast,” said local police official Mohamed Dahir Adan.
The blast occurred near a hotel often used as a meeting place for local officials, witnesses said.

“I think the bomber was trying to target the hotel but he was stopped at the checkpoint close to the hotel and he decided to detonate his explosives,” said witness Awke Mohamed.

Puntland set up its own government in 1998, but, unlike neighbouring Somaliland, it has not declared full independence.

The region has often come under attack by Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab militants, and is also home to a breakaway group of fighters which declared allegiance to IS last year but has failed to gather much support so far.

The militants are led by former Shabaab cleric Abdiqadir Mumin who was placed on a US terror list last August for his role at the head of IS in East Africa.

AFP |

 

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Australia: Police criticised for tactics in deadly Sydney cafe siege

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Australia: Police criticised for tactics in deadly Sydney cafe siege

Posted on 24 May 2017 by GGS News

Sydney : Australian police failed to respond quickly enough to the threat posed by a gunman responsible for a 16-hour siege at a Sydney cafe in 2014 in which three people dead including the hostage-taker were killed, a coroner said in a report on Wednesday.

While attributing blame for the deaths of Lindt Chocolate Cafe manager Tori Johnson and lawyer Katrina Dawson to gunman Man Haron Monis, New South Wales Coroner Michael Barnes said police should have acted promptly after Monis fired a warning shot.

Monis killed Johnson shortly after that. Dawson was killed by fragments of a bullet fired by police after they stormed the cafe in the city`s central business district 10 minutes after the gunman fired the warning shot.
Monis was killed by police fire.

“The 10 minutes that lapsed without decisive action by police was too long,” Barnes said in a finding handed down after two years of testimony.

A spokesman for New South Wales police declined to make immediate comment but said police would hold a new conference later in the day.

The siege, which began on December 15, 2014, was Australia`s most deadly incident inspired by Islamic State militants.

Questions have been raised every since abQuestions have been raised every since about the police strategy of “contain and negotiate” that saw the siege last for more than 16 hours.

While concluding the strategy was appropriate at the beginning, Barnes said the police had an incomplete picture of the threat posed by Manos and they placed too much emphasis on the advice of a psychologist, who was not an expert in acts of terror, and the incorrect belief that negotiations were progressing.

Barnes recommended authorities reconsider their response to such incidents.The outcome of the Lindt cafe siege suggests that contain and negotiate strategy needs to be more rigorously assessed in the context of terrorist incidents,” Barnes said.

Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its escalating action against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, has been on high alert for attacks by home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East or their supporters.

Reuters |

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Pak harbouring terrorists in Afghanistan: US intel officials

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Pak harbouring terrorists in Afghanistan: US intel officials

Posted on 24 May 2017 by GGS News

Washington : Pakistan is “harbouring terrorists” and using them as “reserve” in Afghanistan, a top US intelligence official has told lawmakers.

“Pakistan views Afghanistan or desires for Afghanistan some of the same things we want: a safe, secure, stable Afghanistan. One addition—one that does not have heavy Indian influence in Afghanistan,” Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, told members of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on worldwide threats.

“They view all of the challenges through the lens of an Indian threat to the state of Pakistan,” Stewart said.

“So they (Pakistan) hold in reserve terrorist organisation—we define them as terrorist organisations, they hold them in reserve so that—if Afghanistan leans towards India, they will no longer be supportive of an idea of a stable and secure Afghanistan that could undermine Pakistan interest,” Stewart said.

He said Pakistan needs to be told very clearly that Afghanistan’s security and stability is in the interest of all of the parties in the region and does not pose a risk to Pakistan.

“We’ve got to convince Pakistan that if they’re harbouring any of the Haqqani network members that it is not in their interest to continue to host of Haqqani network, that we ought to be working together to go after those 20 terrorist organisations that undermine not just Afghanistan, not just Pakistan, but all of the region,” he said.

“And so we’ve to make sure we’re pushing them to do more against the Haqqani network. Then (they should) separate the Taliban from the Pashtun, which want a Pashtun dominated Afghanistan,” he said.

“So we’ve got to get the conversation going again with Pakistan about their role in not harboring any of these terrorists, helping to stabilise Afghanistan,” he added.

Hoping that US may have some progress in this, Stewart said Pakistan also have some influence in bringing the Taliban to the peace table.

“So, we’ve got to get them to think about reconciliation, that the status quo is not in their best interest,” he said.

Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence said there is need to evaluate how to address the situation of Pakistan harbouring terrorist.

“I think certainly an evaluation of how we work with Pakistan to address the situation of the harbouring of terrorist groups would be essential to a strategy that affects Afghanistan, going forward in Afghanistan,” he said in response to a question.

“Because that is potentially a very disrupting situation, putting our own troops at risk and undermining the strategy of dealing with the Taliban and local groups that are trying to undermine the government,” Coats said.

PTI |

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Trump admn proposes $190 million cut in aid to Pakistan

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Trump admn proposes $190 million cut in aid to Pakistan

Posted on 24 May 2017 by GGS News

Washington : The Trump administration has slashed its foreign military financing (FMF) to Pakistan from $255 million to $100 million for the 2018 fiscal, but has kept its options open whether it would be a grant or should be converted into a loan, according to a US official.“While we may use FMF to leverage loans for some countries, we will still maintain the flexibility to use it as grant assistance where needed,” a State Department spokesman told PTI when asked about the budget proposal of $100 million in foreign military funding to Pakistan.

“This budget focuses on bilateral FMF assistance requested for Israel ($3.1 billion), Egypt ($1.3 billion), Jordan ($350 million), and Pakistan ($100 million),” the spokesman said on Tuesday.

Last year, the US assistance to Pakistan under the state department budget was $534 million, which included $225 million towards foreign military funding.

In all, the State Department has proposed a massive $190 million reduction in its financial aid to Pakistan as compared to the 2016 fiscal. The current 2017 fiscal ends on September 30 this year.

On Monday, the White House said that FMF to Israel and Egypt would continue to be in the form of grant while for Pakistan it would be a loan but a final decision would be taken by the state department.

“The Foreign Military Funding or FMF for Pakistan would be provided in the form of a loan guarantee,” said Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management of Budget in the White House.

Responding to questions, Mulvaney said the Trump administration has proposed to convert its FMF programme to many countries from aid to financial loan.

Pakistan is one of those countries.

“This is one of the options that the administration had explored in its internal deliberations, but the request itself does not make that determination,” the White House later clarified indicating it might revert to the original financial grant to Pakistan to sell military hardware if need be.

“Whether the funding is provided through grants, or as a subsidy for a guaranteed loan, is an option the state department can exercise to ensure our foreign assistance best supports our national interests,” the White House said.

“Our argument was instead of giving somebody $100 million, we can give them a smaller number worth of loan guarantees and they can actually buy more stuff. We did not change it for Israel. We did not change it for Egypt,” said Mulvaney.

In another major development, the Trump administration in its annual budget for 2018 fiscal beginning October 1 this year has proposed to end the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund (PCCF), which was budgeted as $9 million in both 2016 and 2017.

PCCF was designed to build the counterinsurgency capabilities of Pakistan’s security forces engaged in operations against militant extremists in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

“While the counterinsurgency purpose underlying the PCCF account and the maintenance of close US Pakistani military ties remain important administration priorities, these needs have been met through other accounts, including Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET), since the FY 2014 Request,” the White House said in its budgetary explanation.

The state department said the $100 million in FMF to Pakistan will be used to advance US national security interests in that country by supporting Pakistan’s capacity to improve stability and security and fight terrorism, including through the elimination of safe havens for terrorist and militant organisations.

The money would be used to continue efforts to build the counterterrorism and counterinsurgency capabilities of Pakistan’s security forces to improve security in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, achieve progress on joint US-Pakistan objectives, including bilateral efforts to decimate core al-Qaeda elements and confront the emerging threat posed by ISIS-Khorasan Province.

Funds will also improve Pakistan’s ability to participate in US-led Coalition Maritime Forces and patrol its maritime borders to stem the flow of illicit materials and personnel, it said.

 PTI |

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Two men publicly caned in Indonesia for having gay sex

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Two men publicly caned in Indonesia for having gay sex

Posted on 23 May 2017 by GGS News

Banda Aceh : Religious police in Indonesia caned two men for gay sex on Tuesday, with hooded men inflicting 82 lashes on each of them as hundreds of people watched the punishment ordered by an Islamic court.

Cheers and applause went up from a crowd gathered outside a mosque in the city of Banda Aceh, capital of the conservative province of Aceh, as the masked men took turns to flog the pair on a raised platform.

The men stood quietly, their heads down, as spectators heckled them and shouted insults.
The punishment, condemned by rights groups, marked the first application of anti-homosexuality laws introduced in the province in 2014.

Aceh has long had a reputation as Indonesia`s most conservative region. It is the only province that criminalises same-sex relations and that uses Islamic law as its legal code in addition to the national criminal code.

Up to 1,000 people, many filming with smartphones, watched as the two men received 82 lashes each. Many others watched the punishment being meted out on a livestream video.

Some in the crowd carried banners rejecting the presence of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Aceh.

“I hope there won`t be any more such cases of homosexuality, it is shocking,” said Eni Tri Retnaningsih, a 20-year-old student who said she had watched others caned before for other offences such as adultery.

At least eight other men and women were caned for other offences ahead of the punishment of the two found guilty of having gay sex.

Police separated men and women in the crowd as proceedings began, with 10 men in brown robes and hoods preparing a bundle of canes in case any broke during the flogging.

UNDER PRESSURE

The beatings were delivered on the clothed backs of the men and women, some of whom cried out in pain with each stroke. In some cases, the caning was suspended briefly if the offender signalled they were in too much pain.

At the end of the lashing, the two men were helped off the platform. They were free to return to their families, authorities said.

Aceh is Indonesia`s most westerly province, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, where Islam first took hold in the archipelago.

The province caned 339 people in 2016 for a range of crimes, according to Human Rights Watch.

Indonesia has the world`s largest population of Muslims but is officially a secular country. Most Muslims practice a moderate form of the religion.

Religious police in Aceh have also been known to rebuke Muslim women without headscarves or those wearing tight clothes, and people drinking alcohol or gambling.

Aceh is the only province allowed to implement sharia Islamic law under a special agreement that was signed in 2005 to bring an end to a bloody separatist movement.

Homosexuality is not illegal under Indonesian national law, but the LGBT community has come under pressure since government officials expressed reservations last year about activism by its members.

Police in the capital, Jakarta, detained more than 140 men in a raid on a gay club on Sunday on suspicion of violating pornography laws.

Rights groups and activists have raised concern over the persecution of minorities, moral policing and violations of privacy and expression.

A presidential spokesman declined to comment on the caning.

Reuters |

 

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Seven al Qaeda militants killed in Special Forces raid in Yemen – U.S. military

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Seven al Qaeda militants killed in Special Forces raid in Yemen – U.S. military

Posted on 23 May 2017 by GGS News

Washington : Seven militants were killed during an intelligence-gathering raid by U.S. Special Forces troops against an al Qaeda compound in Yemen on Tuesday morning, U.S. officials said.

U.S. Central Command said in a statement the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants were killed “through a combination of small-arms fire and precision air strikes” in the Marib governorate, with the support of the Yemeni government.

“Raids such as this provide insight into AQAP`s disposition, capabilities and intentions, which will allow us to continue to pursue, disrupt, and degrade AQAP,” the statement said.
Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters separately that there were no known U.S. casualties and the raid was carried out 40-45 km (25-30 miles) north of another U.S. raid that took place in late January.

One of the U.S. officials said there were no immediate reports of civilian casualties in the raid, which was carried out by U.S. Special Forces troops.

The January operation, the first of its kind authorised by U.S. President Donald Trump, was hailed as a success by the White House and other U.S. officials.

However, critics questioned the value of the mission after a U.S. Navy Seal was killed. Women and children, as well as several militants, were also killed in the raid.

The U.S. military has carried out more than 80 strikes in Yemen against al Qaeda militants since February.

The group boasts one of the world`s most feared bomb makers, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, and AQAP has been a persistent concern to the U.S. government since a 2009 attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

The militant group has also taken advantage of a civil war pitting the Iran-aligned Houthis against the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to try to widen its control and influence in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country, one of the poorest in the Middle East.

Reuters |

 

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Car bomb kills four in Syria`s Homs: state media

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Car bomb kills four in Syria`s Homs: state media

Posted on 23 May 2017 by GGS News

Damascus : A car bomb killed four people and wounded more than two dozen in Syria`s third city Homs on Tuesday, state media said, days after the government regained full control.

The blast struck near the Al-Zahraa neighbourhood, where most residents belong to the same Alawite sect as President Bashar al-Assad.

The bomber drove the vehicle towards a checkpoint where security forces opened fire, detonating the explosives inside, state news agency SANA said.
At least 30 people were wounded in the blast, it reported.

“Some of those with minor injuries have already left the hospital,” governor Talal Barazi told state television.

The bombing comes two days after the government announced it had taken full control of Homs, following the evacuation of rebel fighters from the last neighbourhood under their control.

The Russian-supervised evacuation of the Waer district was the latest blow to the rebels by government troops backed by their Russian and Iranian allies.

Since December, the rebels have lost their former bastion of Aleppo and nearly all of the areas they controlled in Damascus.

Homs`s Al-Zahraa district has been targeted repeatedly during Syria`s six-year civil war, several times by the Islamic State group.

There was also an apparent car bombing attempt near Damascus on Tuesday, SANA reported.

Police opened fire on a vehicle near a checkpoint which turned out to be carrying explosives and blew up, killing one civilian and wounding another, the news agency said.

The incident happened on the road south from the capital to Syria`s holiest Shiite Muslim shrine, the Sayyida Zeinab mausoleum.

In March, twin suicide attacks at Sayyida Zeinab killed 74 people, most of them Iraqi pilgrims.

AFP |

 

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Donald Trump meets Palestinian leader in Bethlehem

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Donald Trump meets Palestinian leader in Bethlehem

Posted on 23 May 2017 by GGS News

Tel Aviv : Donald Trump made the short trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem Tuesday to meet Mahmud Abbas, who was hoping to convince the unpredictable US president to remain committed to an independent Palestinian state.

His talks in Bethlehem with the Palestinian president came after Trump on Monday made a heavily symbolic visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem and met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Later Tuesday, Trump will return to Jerusalem to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and give a speech at the Israel Museum before wrapping up his two-day stop.
He was expected to comment on the bomb blast at a concert in the British city of Manchester on Monday night that killed 22 people.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Twitter that Trump`s national security team was “providing updates” to the president on the situation.

Trump`s visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories is part of his first trip abroad as president, and follows an initial leg in Saudi Arabia, where he urged Islamic leaders to confront extremism.

He arrived in Bethlehem by motorcade, crossing a checkpoint at Israel`s controversial separation wall, and was greeted by Abbas and other dignitaries outside the city`s presidential palace.

Trump has spoken of reviving long-stalled peace efforts between the Israelis and Palestinians, but few specifics have emerged of how he intends to do so.

Before dinner at Netanyahu`s residence on Monday, Trump avoided delving into details.

“I`ve heard it`s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we`re going to get there eventually, I hope,” he said.

Earlier Monday, Trump also lashed out at Iran, Israel`s arch-enemy, saying it should never be allowed to have nuclear weapons and criticising Tehran for supporting “terrorists” — a reference to militant groups it backs in the region.

In Tehran on Monday, Iran`s newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani ridiculed US strategy in the Middle East, dismissing Trump`s summit with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia as “just a show”.Security was tight for Trump`s journey to Bethlehem, a 20-minute drive from Jerusalem but located across Israel`s separation wall.

The wall is part of a project begun in 2002 during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, that is to extend some 700 kilometres (450 miles) once completed.

It is a stark symbol for Palestinians of Israel`s 50-year occupation of the West Bank, and in Bethlehem the wall has been covered with graffiti and street art.

Bethlehem also holds deep significance as the site where Christians believe Jesus was born and welcomes thousands of pilgrims each year for Christmas.

A banner hung in the city said “the city of peace welcomes the man of peace” along with photos of Abbas and Trump.

Hossam Zomlot, an aide to Abbas, said that “if President Trump wants to mediate and leads us to a historic agreement, a major agreement, we are ready to be his partners”.

Their talks come with hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails on hunger strike since April 17, and activists were hoping to display banners in Bethlehem to drawn Trump`s attention to it.

On Monday, Palestinians also held a general strike in support of the prisoners.

Clashes broke out near a checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah involving several hundred stone-throwing youths and Israeli soldiers who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas, leaving at least one wounded.

On Monday night in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave run by Abbas`s rivals Hamas, the Islamist movement organised a demonstration to denounce its labelling as a “terrorist” group by many Western governments, including the United States.

Trump and Abbas met earlier this month at the White House.

Trump initially sparked deep concern among Palestinians when he backed away from the long US commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict.

Meeting Netanyahu in Washington in February, he said he would support a single state if it led to peace, delighting Israeli right-wingers who want to see most of the West Bank annexed.

During his election campaign, Trump also advocated breaking with decades of precedent and moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, alarming Palestinians.

He has since said the move was still being looked at.

At the same time, he urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in the West Bank, a longstanding concern of Palestinians and much of the world.

The most high-profile moment of Trump`s stay in Jerusalem was his visit to the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism.

He became the first sitting US president to visit the site in the Israeli-annexed east of the city. He was not accompanied by any Israeli leaders during the visit.

Allowing them to do so could have led to accusations that Washington was implicitly recognising Israel`s unilateral claim of sovereignty over the site, which would break with years of US and international precedent.

The status of Jerusalem is ultra-sensitive and has been among the most difficult issues in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, stalled since April 2014.

Israel occupied the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, in the Six-Day War of 1967.

It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community and claims the entire city as its capital.

The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

After Israel and the Palestinian territories, Trump will head to the Vatican, and to Brussels and Italy for NATO and G7 meetings.

AFP |

 

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Over 30,000 Indians overstayed in US last year, says report

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Over 30,000 Indians overstayed in US last year, says report

Posted on 23 May 2017 by GGS News

Washington : Over 30,000 Indians overstayed in the US last year, according to a new report which said that a total of 1.4 million people from India travelled to the US on various visas in 2016.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) submitted an annual official report on departures and overstays to the Congress on foreign visitors who entered the US on various visas, including business, tourists, students and visitors exchange, as non-immigrant visitors.The report covered about 96 per cent of the total non-immigrant visitors.
As per the report, more than 50 million non-immigrants were expected to depart from the US in 2016. Of these, 739,478 overstayed their admission, resulting in a total overstay rate of 1.47 per cent.
Of the more than 739,000 overstays, DHS said 628,799 were suspected “in-country” overstays, which means that there is no record of these foreign nationals leaving the US.
The rest left the country after the expiry of their lawful admission period, which is called out-of-country overstay.
According to the figures, more than 1.4 million Indians who entered the US were expected to leave the country in 2016, but more than 30,000 overstayed.
Of these 30,000, a little over 6,000 Indian nationals left the US after the expiry of their visas, the report said.
In 2016, more than one million Indians who came to the US on business, tourist or pleasure were expected to leave the country. Of these, 17,763 have overstayed in the country, it said.
Among the overstayed are 2,040 Indians who departed the US only after the expiry of their visas.
Similarly, in 2016, as many as 9,897 Indian students or exchange scholars were expected to depart by the end of the year and of which, 4,575 overstayed their legal period.
As per available records, 1,561 Indian students and exchange visitors left the country after their visas expired, while 3,014 of them have overstayed in the country, the report said.
There were also 339,076 Indians in various other categories who were expected to leave the country in 2016. Of these, 8,061 overstayed, including 2,402 Indians who left the US after their visas expired.
According to the report, more than 881,000 Indians on business or pleasure were expected to leave the country in 2015. Of these 14,348 Indians overstayed, including 1,463 who left the US after the expiry of their visas. PTI

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Donald Trump denounces Manchester attack by “evil losers”; 22 dead

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Donald Trump denounces Manchester attack by “evil losers”; 22 dead

Posted on 23 May 2017 by GGS News

London : A suicide bomber blew himself up at a crowded arena hosting US star Ariana Grande’s pop concert in Manchester, killing at least 22 people and injuring 59 others, the deadliest terror attack in the UK since the 7/7 bombings of 2005.
Children and teenagers were among the dead because of the very young demographic of the pop star’s fans, with desperate parents and relatives waiting for the news of loved ones after the blast struck the Manchester Arena on Monday night.“Our thoughts are with those 22 victims that we now know have died, the 59 people who have been injured and their loved ones. We continue to do all we can to support them. They are being treated at eight hospitals across Greater Manchester,” Greater Manchester Police Chief constable Ian Hopkins said.
“This is a fast-moving investigation…We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe that while the attack was conducted by one man, the priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network,” he said in a statement.
Police confirmed the attacker died at the arena. They said the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing the massive blast.
Official sources in New Delhi said they were ascertaining if there were any Indian casualties in the blast.
“Any Indians injured during Manchester attack today may reach off-office hours Public Response Unit of HCI (High Commission of India) ASAP (as soon as possible) at 020 7632 3035,” the Indian High Commission here tweeted.
“We’ll activate more helplines shortly to be of further assistance to families and friends of those affected by attack,” it said.
Manchester, a heavily industrialised town, is home to a significant number of people from South Asia.
Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the “appalling terrorist attack”. She said her thoughts were with the victims and families of those affected in “what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack”.
May said the government was working to establish the full details of the incident.
The blast comes just weeks before the snap UK general election, campaigning for which was hotting up over the issue of Brexit–the UK’s exit from the European Union.
However, both May and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn suspended election campaign after the Manchester attack.
British Transport Police said the explosion occurred in the foyer area of Manchester Arena that has a capacity of 21,000.
Eyewitnesses said the explosion was heard after the artist had finished her show and left the stage.
Pop star Grande’s spokesperson said she was safe.
Grande, a 23-year-old American TV teen actress-turned-pop star, said she was “broken” and at a loss for words over the deadly terror attack at her concert.
“Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words,” she tweeted hours after the powerful blast.
Greater Manchester Police also carried out a “controlled explosion” in the Cathedral Gardens area near the Manchester Arena, but have since confirmed the item they found was abandoned clothing and not dangerous.
Armed police lined the streets outside the arena with officers moving members of the public away and bomb disposal units at the site of the blast.
Reacting to the incident, Opposition Labour Party leader Corbyn tweeted, “Terrible incident in Manchester. My thoughts are with all those affected and our brilliant emergency services.”
Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said, “My heart goes out to families who have lost loved ones, my admiration to our brave emergency services. A terrible night for our great city.”
Eyewitnesses reported hearing a loud “bang” from inside the venue.
Video footage from the scene showed bloodied victims being helped by emergency services.
“It was one bang and essentially everyone from the other side of the arena where the bang was heard from suddenly came running towards us,” an eyewitness said.
“Some people were screaming they’d seen blood but other people were saying it was balloons busting or a speaker had been popped,” said another eyewitness.
The UK’s Network Rail said train lines out of Manchester Victoria station, which is close to the concert venue, were blocked.
Manchester Arena is the biggest indoor venue in the city.
The arena foyer connects with Victoria train and tram station, a major hub on the northern edge of the city centre.
The arena regularly hosts concerts by major stars like Grande.
Grande is currently on a European tour–she has already played in Birmingham and Dublin and is due to be at the O2 Arena in London on Wednesday and Thursday.
Monday night’s blast came two months after a careening driver left four people dead on London’s Westminster Bridge, then stabbed to death a police officer at the gates of Parliament.
Monday’s blast was also the deadliest after the July 7, 2005, London bombings, that were a series of coordinated terrorist suicide bomb attacks in central London.
The bombings had targeted civilians using the public transport system during the rush hour. Fifty-two people were killed and over 700 more were injured in those attacks.

PTI |

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