Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Trump commits $300 million to fight Africa famine

May 24, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | South Sudan has declared famine in parts of the country, saying a million people are on the brink of starvation

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – 

US President Donald Trump told Pope Francis on Wednesday he was committing more than $300 million (270 million euros) to help prevent or tackle famine in Yemen and several countries in Africa.

Trump, meeting the pontiff for the first time, said he had “renewed” the US “commitment to fighting global famine”, with the United Nations warning that about 20 million people across Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen are at risk.

The UN has described the situation as the biggest humanitarian crisis in its history, but donor funding is falling far short.

It appealed earlier this month for $4.4 billion, but said less than a third had been raised.

“As he (Trump) relayed at the Vatican, the United States is proud to announce more than $300 million in anti-famine spending” for the area, a White House statement said.

His announcement came just a day after the US State Department laid out plans to put “America first” and slash Washington’s budget for diplomacy and foreign aid by more than 30 percent.

The deepest cuts will hit foreign assistance programmes and contributions by the world’s largest economy to international organisations like the United Nations and its global peacekeeping budget.

China’s Xi Says Navy Should Become World Class

May 24, 2017

BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country’s navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.

China’s navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.

With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.

Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should “aim for the top ranks in the world”, the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit.

Trump tells Duterte of two U.S. nuclear subs in Korean waters: NYT

May 24, 2017

Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump told his Philippine counterpart that Washington has sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, the New York Times said, comments likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information.

Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible because of its nuclear and missile programs and that all options are on the table but that he wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

North Korea has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Washington had “a lot of firepower over there”, according to the New York Times, which quoted a transcript of an April 29 call between the two.

“We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all,” the newspaper quoted Trump as telling Duterte, based on the transcript.

The report was based on a Philippine transcript of the call that was circulated on Tuesday under a “confidential” cover sheet by the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

In a show of force, the United States has sent the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to waters off the Korean peninsula, where it joined the USS Michigan, a nuclear submarine that docked in South Korea in late April.

According to the Times, a senior Trump administration official in Washington, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the call and insisted on anonymity, confirmed the transcript was an accurate representation of the call between the two leaders.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said Trump discussed intelligence about Islamic State with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at talks in the Oval Office this month, raising questions about Trump’s handling of secrets.

Trump also praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem”, the New York Times reported, a subject that has drawn much criticism in the West.

Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about one-third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defense during legitimate operations.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Russia Views Iran, Syria as Strategic Partners in Middle East

May 24, 2017
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Dr. Papadopoulos: Russia Views Iran, Syria as Strategic Partners in Middle East
Dr. Marcus Papadopoulos
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Fars News Agency
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TEHRAN (FNA)- It is now more than six years that the Syrian government is engaged in a full-fledged war against terrorism. Syria has been faced with international terror squads programed to unite and topple the country’s government. Apart from Iran and Russia, the Syrian government has never been supported by other countries, and it has rather been confronted in terms of economics, politics and military support.

“Russia and Syria are not just allies – they are friends, too.  Relations between Moscow and Damascus are multi-faceted, involving bilateral, economic, military, security and cultural dimensions… Syria’s security has historically been strengthened by Moscow, and the Russians have on more than one occasion come to the aid of Syria”, said Dr. Marcus Papadopoulos in an exclusive interview with Fars News Agency.

“To counter extremism and terrorism is also very much a threat to Russian national security… Syria is Russia’s historic friend – friends are there for each other.  And, in order to retain its influence and power in the Middle East, Russia must ensure the survival of the Syrian state” he added.

Dr. Marcus Papadopoulos, Publisher and Editor of Politics First (a non-partisan publication for the UK Parliament) holds a PhD in Russian history and specializes in Russia and the rest of the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia.

FNA talked to Dr. Papadopoulos about Russia’s intention to support Syria in general, and ways in which the Syrian government has been supported by Russians in particular.

Below is the full text of the interview.

Q: How do you assess the historical ties between Russia and Syria in the contemporary history, specially since the Cold War era? What landmark events should be brought up to study the relations between these two countries in its entirety?

A: Russia and Syria are not just allies – they are friends, too.  Relations between Moscow and Damascus are multi-faceted, involving bilateral, economic, military, security and cultural dimensions.  And the Russian and Syrian peoples have benefited tremendously from those relations, which have been in existence for over half a century.  Syria’s security has historically been strengthened by Moscow, and the Russians have on more than one occasion come to the aid of Syria; for example, during the June War of 1967, the October War of 1973 and the conflict in Syria today.  In return, Syria is Russia’s eyes and ears in the Middle East.  Many Russians and Syrians regard each other as brothers – a sentiment that has gained even more popularity as a result of how, today, the Syrian and Russian militaries are on the frontline fighting extremism and terrorism, specifically Wahhabism and Salafism.

Q: Syria has been at war with foreign-backed terrorists for around six years now, while militants are losing ground in every front now. Where and at what stages, do you think, Russia’s assistance has brought Syria a step closer to victory? 

A: The turning-point in the Syrian conflict was on 30 September 2015 when Russia militarily intervened in the fighting, at the request of the Syrian Government, which is the only legitimate authority in Syria, in accordance with international law.  Up until that date, the Syrian military, which reflects the multi-cultural Syrian state in terms of its personnel (contrast this with how the terrorist opposition groups are sectarian, comprised of 99 per cent Sunnis), has been fighting on approximately 300 fronts and against approximately 80 different nationalities of terrorists – not to mention the military and financial support that these terrorists were and are continuing to receive from the US, UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The courage and tenacity demonstrated by Syrian servicemen and servicewomen has been extraordinary, and their achievements will gain a special place in history.  History will show that those men and women gave it their all in order to contain and defeat one of the most awful cancers in the history of mankind: Extremism.

The Syrian military had been battling alone, against the odds, for four years, prior to Russian intervention.  The Syrian soldier needed help from his Russian counterpart, and, like true brothers do, the Russian soldier came to his aid.

Because of Russian intervention in Syria’s fight with Takfirism, the Syrian military will prevail.  It is not a matter of if but when victory will come for the Syrian Armed Forces.

Q: Why does Russia see it on itself to stand up for Bashar Al-Assad’s government? What objectives could be perceived for Russia’s present role in Syria?

A: Firstly, Russia came to the aid of a legitimate government and one that is in trouble in its fight with extremism and terrorism.  Secondly, on humanitarian grounds, namely to protect the Syrian people from the barbarism that is Wahhabism and Salafism.  Thirdly, to counter extremism and terrorism is also very much a threat to Russian national security.  Fourthly, Syria is Russia’s historic friend – friends are there for each other.  And finally, in order to retain its influence and power in the Middle East, Russia must ensure the survival of the Syrian state; no different to how the US would militarily defend its position in Saudi Arabia or Israel, if it was required to do so.

Q: Considering the recent Washington-Moscow confrontational policies over a range of issues, specially the war in Syria, do you see a shift in Russia’s foreign policy towards the United States’ allies in the Middle-East, specifically Israel and Saudi Arabia?

A: No.  Israel and Saudi Arabia are staunch allies and friends to the US – and nothing can undo this well-known reality.  Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is the number one exporter of religious extremism (Wahhabism) and terrorism to the world, which continues to affect Russian security, especially in the North Caucasus.  And as for Israel, the Israelis historically pose a deadly threat to Russia’s friend and ally Syria, and Israel has been assisting armed groups affiliated with al-Qaeda in their fight with the Syrian army, something that Moscow is well aware of.

For the Kremlin, Syria and Iran are its strategic partners in the Middle East.  Damascus and Tehran are to Moscow what Tel Aviv and Riyadh are to Washington.

Q: Is the Syrian crisis pushing the ties between Russia and the US into a state similar to the cold war decades ago? With the new US administration, how likely is it to witness a 21st century version of the cold war?

A: The crisis in Ukraine is what propelled relations between Russia and the US to such a low level.  However, the fighting in Syria has made relations between the two superpowers even worse.  The state of relations between Moscow and Washington today are comparable to how they were before Detente in the 1970s and during the early 1980s.  And with the Trump administration determined to “Make America Great Again” by crushing or curtailing the power of countries which follow independent foreign policies (Russia, Syria, Iran and North Korea, to name but a few), it is extremely difficult to see how Russia-US relations can improve. President Putin cannot and will not (and rightly so) bow down to American diktats, while President Trump is determined to both fulfil his own personal megalomaniac ambitions and pursue America’s insatiable lust for ever more wealth and power in the world.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960209001727

Trump meets Pope Francis at Vatican

May 24, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Trump and the pope have clashed over many issues

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – 

US President Donald Trump met Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday in a keenly-anticipated first face-to-face encounter between two world leaders who have clashed repeatedly on several issues.

The private audience with the pontiff was preceded by a cordial handshake for the cameras and was expected to last around 20 minutes.

It came on the third leg of Trump’s first overseas trip as president, which has already taken him to Saudi Arabia and to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The two men had never met before Wednesday morning but they have significant history having clashed publicly over subjects ranging from migration to unbridled capitalism and climate change.

They also disagree on issues like the death penalty and the arms trade but share a fervent opposition to abortion.

Trump was accompanied for the audience by his wife Melania and daughter Ivanka, both dressed all in black, in keeping with traditional protocol that is no longer always observed by all female dignitaries visiting the Vatican.

The audience took place in the private library of the Apostolic Palace, the official papal residence that Francis does not use, having opted instead for modest lodgings in a Vatican guesthouse.

Immediately after the meeting, the 80-year-old pope was due to give his usual midweek address to the faithful on St Peter’s square while the Trump couple are given a private tour of the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.

Later in the morning, Trump, 70, will call on Italy’s president and prime minister while Melania visits a children’s hospital and Ivanka discusses migrant issues with members of the St Egidio religious community.

The Trump team is due to fly to Brussels on Wednesday afternoon for meetings with EU and NATO officials before returning to Italy late Thursday for the G7 summit in Sicily on Friday and Saturday.

Trump’s 3% Growth Target Looks Out of Reach

May 24, 2017

President has to identify some wellspring of workers or productivity that his predecessors have missed

President Donald Trump released his first budget on Monday.

President Donald Trump released his first budget on Monday. PHOTO: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS
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Updated May 23, 2017 12:20 p.m. ET

Great leaders, whether of sports teams, companies or countries, set audacious goals to spur followers on to great accomplishments. But the goal isn’t enough: A leader also needs a credible path to achieve it.

That’s the problem with President Donald Trump’s first budget. It sets a worthy objective of sustained 3% economic growth, but offers no rigorous plan to back it up.

To listen to budget director Mick Mulvaney, the main thing holding the U.S. economy back is a bad attitude. Projections by the previous administration and the Congressional Budget Office of 1.9% long-term growth were “sad,” he told reporters Monday.

“That assumes a pessimism about America, about the economy, about its culture, that we’re simply refusing to accept. We believe that we can get to 3% growth and we don’t believe that’s fanciful.”

Mr. Trump—moving in the opposite direction of President Barack Obama —promises lower taxes and less regulation, which should increase business investment and thus worker productivity. Moreover, a less-generous social safety net could prod some people back to work. More workers who are more productive are the ingredients of faster growth.

Yet there are good reasons independent economists think the U.S. can’t return to its historic growth of 3%. The U.S. working-age population grew 1.2% a year from 1950 through 2000. With the baby boomers retiring and families shrinking, it will grow less than 0.3% a year over the next decade. To make a credible case for 3% growth, Mr. Trump has to identify some wellspring of workers or productivity, that is output per worker, that his predecessors have missed.

Mr. Mulvaney thinks prodding many people off social safety-net programs and back to work will be good for them, and for growth.

In principle, that’s true, but the magnitudes are doubtful. About half of household heads on food stamps and three quarters of those on Medicaid already work, says Robert Moffitt, an economist at Johns Hopkins University. At most, 13 million recipients of Medicaid and 6.5 million recipients of food stamps don’t work (and the two groups overlap). The growth of people on disability insurance can be slowed with tougher eligibility, but experience suggests getting existing recipients off is almost impossible.

When welfare was cut off in the 1990s for single mothers able to work, the share of those not working dropped by up to a third. That kind of effect on 13 million Medicaid recipients or 6.5 million food-stamp participants would generate only a modest, and one-off, boost to a labor force of 160 million. The effect on gross domestic product would be even more muted because, Mr. Moffitt notes, these workers have extremely low skills and thus productivity.

Nor would repealing the Affordable Care Act do the trick. The CBO estimates its health-insurance subsidies, which become less generous as wages rise, discourage work and would eventually reduce employment by 2 million. But little of that has been felt yet, and in any case, the Republican replacement plan maintains some of those subsidies.

One safety-net reform that would meaningfully expand the labor force would be a higher retirement age for Social Security and Medicare. But Mr. Trump promised not to touch either and his budget, it declares, “does not.” He is also deporting more illegal immigrants, another restraint on labor force.

Lowering corporate tax rates in theory would make many more capital projects profitable, bolstering productivity meaningfully. But the budget doesn’t include a tax reform plan. It merely assumes reform will be “deficit neutral,” then simply extrapolates today’s tax take, as a share of GDP, out for the next 10 years.

Mr. Trump has proposed steep cuts to personal and corporate tax rates that even optimists think will add trillions to the deficit. The Tax Foundation, a pro tax-cut think tank, reckons lowering the corporate rate to 15% as Mr. Trump wants would only raise growth to 2.3% from 1.9%, and that boost would peter out once all the newly profitable capital projects had been undertaken.

Even that is probably high. Most large U.S. trading partners have slashed their own corporate rates but none has enjoyed a noticeable growth dividend as a result. Businesses generally report that tax rates are unimportant in deciding whether to invest; customer demand is paramount.

Mr. Trump is intent on limiting regulation. As with taxes, this goes in the right direction, but the benefits are potentially slim.

Sam Batkins of the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank, says the administration has already slowed the production of new rules, but actually repealing significant rules is hard because it requires Congress.

Marcus Peacock, a regulatory expert at George Washington University who advised Mr. Trump’s incoming administration, recently told a conference, “They’re looking for opportunities that are going to make existing regulations more efficient,” such as through less paperwork.

Presidents are supposed to be optimists, and Mr. Trump would hardly be the first to fall short of his target. But a great deal is at stake with this one. Many of his other promises rely heavily on the 3% growth goal. For example, the budget is supposed to balance by 2027, with the help of nearly $600 billion a year in added revenue attributable solely to a more aggressive growth forecast.

Until Mr. Trump presents a credible vision for achieving that growth, the rest of his promises are best viewed with deep skepticism.

Write to Greg Ip at greg.ip@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/nice-3-target-mr-trump-how-will-you-get-there-1495550536

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North Korea, if left unchecked, on ‘inevitable’ path to nuclear ICBM: U.S.

May 24, 2017

Reuters

By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali | WASHINGTON

North Korea, if left unchecked, is on an “inevitable” path to obtaining a nuclear-armed missile capable of striking the United States, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart told a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

The remarks are the latest indication of mounting U.S. concern about Pyongyang’s advancing missile and nuclear weapons programs, which the North says are needed for self-defense.

U.S. lawmakers pressed Stewart and the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to estimate how far away North Korea was from obtaining an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could reach the United States.

They repeatedly declined to offer an estimate, saying that doing so would reveal U.S. knowledge about North Korea’s capabilities, but Stewart warned the panel the risk was growing.

“If left on its current trajectory the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland,” Stewart said.

“While nearly impossible to predict when this capability will be operational, the North Korean regime is committed and is on a pathway where this capability is inevitable.”

The U.N. Security Council is due to meet on Tuesday behind closed doors to discuss Sunday’s test of a solid-fuel Pukguksong-2 missile, which defies Security Council resolutions and sanctions. The meeting was called at the request of the United States, Japan and South Korea.

INTELLIGENCE GAPS

John Schilling, a missile expert contributing to Washington’s 38 North think tank, estimated it would take until at least 2020 for North Korea to be able to develop an ICBM capable of reaching the U.S. mainland and until 2025 for one powered by solid fuel.

But Coats acknowledged gaps in U.S. intelligence about North Korea and the thinking of its leader Kim Jong Un.

He cited technological factors complicating U.S. intelligence gathering, including gaps in U.S. intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), which rely on assets like spy satellites and drone aircraft.

“We do not have constant, consistent ISR capabilities and so there are gaps, and the North Koreans know about these,” Coats said.

Washington has been trying to persuade China to agree to new sanctions on North Korea, which has conducted dozens of missile firings and tested two nuclear bombs since the start of last year.

New data on Tuesday showed China raised its imports of iron ore from North Korea in April to the highest since August 2014 but bought no coal for a second month after Beijing halted coal shipments from its increasingly isolated neighbor.

U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that a “major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible over its weapons programs, although U.S. officials say tougher sanctions, not military force, are the preferred option.

Trump’s defense secretary, Jim Mattis, said on Friday any military solution to the North Korea crisis would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale.”

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Related:

 (China and Russia don’t generally agree on this)

 (They say it didn’t happen but eye wintesses say it DID HAPPEN)

 (China did not even criticize North Korea…)

Manchester bomber Salman Abedi, 22, pictured for the first time after Arena massacre that killed 22 – as Theresa May raises UK terror threat level

May 23, 2017

Cops revealed the identity of the attacker after raiding his house in Manchester today

Image may contain: 2 people, text

MANCHESTER suicide bomber Salman Abedi is suspected of being trained in terror during secret trips to Syria, The Sun can reveal.

And spooks are investigating intelligence reports footie-mad Abedi, 22, slipped into the terror-torn country while visiting relatives in Libya

The monster – who killed 22 and left 119 others injured in Monday’s deadly blast at Ariana Grande’s concert – was born and grew up in Britain.

This is the first picture of Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi

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This is the first picture of Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi

Dramatic footage shows the moment cops raided the suicide bomber's home in the Fallowfield area of Manchester

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Dramatic footage shows the moment cops raided the suicide bomber’s home in the Fallowfield area of Manchester

Police raid the home of Brit national Salman Abedi after the Manchester Arena nail bomb attack

EAMONN AND JAMES CLARKE
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Police raid the home of Brit national Salman Abedi after the Manchester Arena nail bomb attack

Theresa May has raised the threat level to “critical” and warned another attack could be “imminent”

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Theresa May has raised the threat level to “critical” and warned another attack could be “imminent”

Armed cops surround Manchester-born Abedis house - just four miles from the scene of the bombing

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Armed cops surround Manchester-born Abedis house – just four miles from the scene of the bombing

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New video of moment door of suspect in Manchester Arena terror attackBut Abedi’s family hail from Libya and he is thought to have visited the North African country – also a haven for IS fighters – regularly in recent years.

Sources said there were fears Abedi may have taken advantage of the conflict to make the simple journey across the Med to Syria without alerting the British authorities.

One revealed: “His potential ties to Syria now very much forms one line of inquiry.”

Theresa May has raised the threat level to “critical” and warned another attack could be “imminent” after the deadly nail bomb massacre which ISIS has now claimed responsibility for.

Cops are probing whether Abedi, who is believed to have been known to MI5, acted alone or as part of a larger extremist network to carry out the worst terror attack Britain has seen since the 7/7 London bombings.

The PM said it was possible a “wider group of individuals” could have been involved in the attack at Ariana’s concert and said the military could be deployed to support armed police officers.

Forensic officer was seen holding a 'know your chemicals' booklet during a raid of the nail bomber's home

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Forensic officer was seen holding a ‘know your chemicals’ booklet during a raid of the nail bomber’s home

The book the forensic officer was clutching outside the address

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The book the forensic officer was clutching outside the address

Eight-year-old schoolgirl Saffie Roussos has been named as one of the victims along with college student Georgina Callander and 26-year-old John Atkinson.

Business management student Abedi’s identity emerged soon after armed cops dramatically stormed his home in Chorlton, Manchester, at around noon on Tuesday.

His older brother, computer expert Ismail, 23, was arrested in a separate raid and was being quizzed by anti-terror cops last night.

It came hours after Abedi had blown himself up in the foyer of a packed Manchester Arena, as 21,000 fans left a concert.

The uni dropout’s device – thought to have been wrapped with nuts and bolts to send out a cloud of deadly shrapnel – detonated at 10.33pm.

The death toll currently stands at 22 – with the youngest victim aged just eight – while 59 others were taken to hospital, many with life-threatening injuries.

A further 60 were described as walking wounded. Of the grim casualty total, 12 children under 16 were injured.

 

Dramatic footage showed two heavily armed terror cops raiding a home

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Dramatic footage showed two heavily armed terror cops raiding a home

Police raid house of Manchester arena bomber Salman Abedi after terror attacks

Cops swooped on two addresses in Manchester after the deadly nail bomb blast

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Cops swooped on two addresses in Manchester after the deadly nail bomb blast

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PM Theresa May increases UK threat level to critical following Manchester terror attack by Salman AbediUS security sources, citing British intelligence officials, said Abedi was born in 1994 to parents who had fled to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime.
They are believed to have emigrated to London before moving to south Manchester.

Abedi’s family have told of their horror at finding out he was behind the massacre.

They described the fanatic as a “brilliant” footballer who loved Manchester United and Spanish giants Real Madrid.

One male relative, who asked not to be named, told The Sun how he had seen Abedi just ten days ago looking “happy, relaxed and smiling” as he secretly plotted the attack.

The relative said: “When he was younger he liked football and was good at that stuff, he was just a normal guy, you know what I mean?

“He was actually brilliant at football to be honest, when he was a teenager though.

“He lived Madrid weirdly when he was younger.”

The terrorist’s parents are currently in Libya and are thought to have moved back to live there recently, the family member said.

Abedi and his brother have been living in their parent’s house which was raided on Tuesday.

 

Saffie Rose Roussos, eight, was killed in last night’s suicide bomb attack, teachers say

PA/SWNS
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Saffie Rose Roussos, eight, was killed in last night’s suicide bomb attack, teachers say

Georgina Callander, pictured here with her pop hero Ariana, was also among the dead

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Georgina Callander, pictured here with her pop hero Ariana, was also among the dead

The family source said: “I went to the house ten days ago, I saw other family members and relatives there.

“He was fine. He seemed happy, relaxed.

“He said, ‘Hello,’ or, ‘Salam.’ We were in the sitting room it was very normal.

“He had just normal clothes on, just normal jeans.”

The family member, who would not be named for fears of repercussions, strongly condemned the attack and said: “We can’t believe it.

“We can’t take it in. It is terrible.

“It shows that it takes a short amount of time change someone, sometimes.”

Abedi grew up in the Whalley Range area, close to a girl’s high school which hit the headlines in 2015 when ‘terror twins’ Zahra and Salma Halane fled to ISIS-controlled Syria.

Neighbours have told how Abedi, who is the second youngest of four children, started acting “strangely” in the weeks before the terrorist atrocity.

He was reportedly seen chanting “Islamic prayers loudly in the street” outside his home in the south of the city.

School friends have told how Abedi was a Muslim who had grown a beard in the past year.

One neighbour claimed she saw Abedi chanting loudly in Arabic weeks before the terrorist attack.

Lina Ahmed, 21, said: “He was acting strangely. A couple of months ago he [Salman] was chanting the first kalma [Islamic prayer] really loudly in the street. He was chanting in Arabic.

“He was saying ‘There is only one God and the prophet Mohammed is his messenger’.”

It has been revealed that the sick terrorist started studying business and management at Salford University in 2014, but dropped out and did not finish his degree.

Friends have paid tribute to John Atkinson, who has been named as one of the victims

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Friends have paid tribute to John Atkinson, who has been named as one of the victims

Dr Sam Grogan, the university’s Pro-Vice Chancellor Student Experience, said: “All at the University of Salford are shocked and saddened by the events of last night. Our thoughts are with all those involved, their families and their friends.

“We have provided, and continue to provide, support to all students and staff who have been affected.”

The horrific attack came as:

Abedi and his brother reportedly worshipped at Didsbury mosque, south Manchester, where their father was a “well-known figure”.

Mosque trustee Fawaz Haffar said Abedi’s dad used to perform the azan, the call for prayer before 1,000 of the faithful and his brother worked as a volunteer.

When asked whether he had ever seen the terrorist praying at the mosque, he said: “He probably did, I have never seen him, I don’t know him.

“I came earlier to ask any of the employees whether they knew him, people said they don’t know him. There are many mosques, he may be attending another mosque. I honestly do not know.”

Aerial footage showed the raid at the Fallowfield home

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Aerial footage showed the raid at the Fallowfield home

Shocking image of the immediate aftermath of the cowardly attack

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Shocking image of the immediate aftermath of the cowardly attack

Eyewitnesses told how bomb disposal officers were seen raiding the house before a controlled explosion took place.

Cops stormed two addresses – one in Whalley Range and one in Fallowfield – and arrested a 23-year-old man in Chorlton in connection with the attack.

MI5 spooks and anti-terror cops are now racing against the clock to uncover Abedi’s links to any possible terror cell.

Sources said their aim would be to establish if Abedi himself had built the deadly device – or if a bomb-making mastermind was behind the blast.

Theresa May said Britain is braced for further terrorist attacks after the atrocity that killed 22, including children as young as eight.

Following an emergency Cobra meeting, Mrs May said the independent body which sets the threat level has increased it from “severe” to “critical”.

She said: “This means that their assessment is not only that an attack remains highly likely but that a further attack may be imminent.

The defiant PM described the massacre as “callous and cowardly” and declared “terrorists will never win”.

“His victims were innocent children, young people and their families – our thoughts and prayers are with them all.

“I want to re-iterate what I said this morning about the professionalism of the emergency services and the bravery of the people in Manchester.

“Through their actions, they proved that cowardice will always be defeated by bravery, that evil can be overcome by good and that our values, the liberal, pluralistic values of Britain, will always prevail over the hateful ideology of the terrorists.

“Terrorists will never win and we will prevail.”

Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos was revealed as the second victim of the blast.

Saffie, from Leyland, Lancashire, was killed after becoming separated from her mum and sister during the attack.

Tragically, her mum Lisa has no idea her daughter is dead as she is currently in a coma in hospital.

Neighbour Salman Patel told Mail Online: “Saffie’s sadly passed away and her mother, we understand, isn’t aware. I am praying for the family, it is totally heartbreaking.”

Chris Upton, headteacher at Tarleton Community Primary School near Preston, confirmed the tragic news and paid tribute to a “beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word”.

Saffie’s mum and sister are being treated for shrapnel wounds in separate hospitals.

Devastated Mr Upton said in a statement: “News of Saffie’s death in this appalling attack has come as a tremendous shock to all of us and I would like to send our deepest condolences to all of her family and friends.

An injured woman is escorted from the arena by police after loud bangs were heard at the gig

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An injured woman is escorted from the arena by police after loud bangs were heard at the gig

A female police officer comforts a young fan after the atrocity

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A female police officer comforts a young fan after the atrocity

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Screaming heard amid chaos at Manchester Arena following ‘loud bangs'”The thought that anyone could go out to a concert and not come home is heartbreaking.

“Saffie was simply a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word.

“She was loved by everyone and her warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly.

“Saffie was quiet and unassuming with a creative flair.

“Our focus is now on helping pupils and staff cope with this shocking news and we have called in specialist support from Lancashire County Council to help us do that.

“We are a tight-knit school and wider community and will give each other the support that we need at this difficult time.”

The concert was packed with teens and children as young as eight

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The concert was packed with teens and children as young as eight

Stranded concert-goers wrapped in thermal blankets wait by police van after bombing

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Stranded concert-goers wrapped in thermal blankets wait by police van after bombing

Wounded people on Hunts Bank outside Victoria Station yards from the scene of the cowardly bombing

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Wounded people on Hunts Bank outside Victoria Station yards from the scene of the cowardly bombing

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Injured teen with blood pouring from her leg after deadly Ariana Grande explosion at Manchester ArenaTwelve children under the age of 16 were among the 59 casualties taken to hospital after the bombing, says the North West Ambulance Service.

Sixty people were treated at the scene as walking wounded.

Cowardly ISIS warlords  – hiding in Syria – have now claimed responsibility for the gutless attack.

ISIS said in a statement published by its Amaq News Agency (a news outlet linked to ISIS in Syria) : “With Allah’s grace and support, a soldier of the Khilafah managed to place explosive devices in the midst of the gatherings of the crusaders in the British City of Manchester.

“This was in revenge of Allah’s religion, in an endeavor to terrorize the mushrikin, and in response to their transgressions against the lands of the Muslims.

DO YOU KNOW THE BOMBER?

Call us today on 020 7782 4103, email exclusive@the-sun.co.uk

Or text 07423 720 250

Witnesses reported thousands of screaming fans ran from the concert hall

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Witnesses reported thousands of screaming fans ran from the concert hall as armed police were called in

An injured man is led from the arena in Manchester after tonight's chaos

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An injured man is led from the arena in Manchester after the chaos shortly after the concert finished

A mourner kneels down next to the floral tributes left outside St Ann's Church

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A mourner kneels down next to the floral tributes left outside St Ann’s Church

A man can be seen being led away from the scene in south Manchester

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Dramatic moment armed cops arrested a 23-year-old man outside Morrisons in Chorlton, south Manchester this morning

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Mum describes moment she ‘saw’ Manchester Arena suicide bomber before deadly terror attack“The explosive devices were detonated in the shameless concert arena, resulting in 30 (sic) crusaders being killed and 70 others being wounded.

“And what comes next will be more severe on the worshippers of the Cross and their allies, by Allah’s permission. And all praise is due to Allah, Lord of creation.”

Thousands of adults, teenagers and children screamed and fled in panic as a terrorist detonated a huge bomb – thought to be packed with nails and bolts – as Ariana’s concert ended.

Heartbroken cop was pictured this morning being comforted by two colleagues at the scene in Manchester

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Heartbroken cop was pictured this morning being comforted by two colleagues at the scene in Manchester

Flowers and messages in memory of the victims of the Manchester terror attack

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Flowers and messages in memory of the victims of the Manchester terror attack

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People flee Manchester Arena after fatal ‘explosion’ during pop concertAmong the many dead is pop fan Georgina Callander, 18, who has today been described as a girl who “lit up the room”.

She had tragically written to her pop hero yesterday, telling the pop star: “SO EXCITED TO SEE U TOMORROW”.

A close friend told the Evening Standard she died with her mother at her hospital bedside.

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Heavily armed police descend on Manchester’s Fallowfield as part of terror investigation

Walking casualties Vikki Baker and her daughter Charlotte, 13, hug outside the Manchester Arena stadium

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Walking casualties Vikki Baker and her daughter Charlotte, 13, hug outside the Manchester Arena stadium

Woman breaks down in tears at the scene of the nail bomb attack

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Woman breaks down in tears at the scene of the nail bomb attack

John Atkinson, 26, of Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, has also been named in reports as one of the 22 killed.

One friend posted on the internet: “Truly devastated for them all. What an amazing lovely man he was and blessed to have known him.xxx”

Another wrote: “Rip John Atkinson. Thoughts and prayers to your family. What a mad, sad world”.

Thousands have gathered to remember the victims of the atrocity in a series of vigils across the country.

But one was marred by the arrest of an axe-wielding man heard screaming and shouting at the vigil in Birmingham’s Victoria Square.

Police confirmed the man, 39, was detained and taken away in a riot van amid heightened tensions following last night’s attack.

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE MANCHESTER ARENA ATTACK

Today we launch a Together With Manchester appeal – to raise money for families of the victims of the Arena bomb.

News UK, publisher of The Sun, has made a corporate donation of £100,000 to the appeal.

Here’s how you can show your support….

ONLINE: www.justgiving.com/TogetherWithManchester

TEXT: Text TWMC50 and amount to 70070 – eg TWMC50 £5
(you can donate £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10)

A well-wisher talks to a police officer as she clutches a bouquet of flowers outside the Arena today

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A well-wisher talks to a police officer as she clutches a bouquet of flowers outside the Arena today

The blast detonated in the foyer near the box office as thousands of pop fans left the concert, many going to Victoria station

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The blast detonated in the foyer near the box office as thousands of pop fans left the concert, many going to Victoria station

Witnesses told of seeing shards of metal tearing into concert-goers in the foyer area of the world-famous concert venue – leaving dozens lying in pools of blood.

The horrific blast could he heard echoing through the packed arena as families tried to make their way home as the concert came to an end just after 10.40pm.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola’s wife and two daughters were “caught up in the attack”, according to reports in Spain.

Heavily armed police have been spotted in Manchester

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Armed police raided a house in Fallowfield, south Manchester, in connection with last night’s bomb

A police forensic investigator at an address in Elsmore Road, Greater Manchester

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A police forensic investigator at an address in Elsmore Road, Greater Manchester

Some reports claimed the terrorist caught a £3.80 tram to the arena to carry out the suicide bombing.

But other US security sources, citing British intelligence officials, suggested he may have caught a train.

Two former top anti-terror cops have said the atrocity was “well planned” and “sophisticated”.

Theresa May – speaking from the steps of Downing Street – said this morning the attack “stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice.”

The PM added the “cowardice of the attacker was met by the bravery of the emergency services and the people of Manchester.”

Mum and daughter caught up in terror attack look out from their hotel window

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Mum and daughter caught up in terror attack look out from their hotel window

Theresa May slammed the 'appalling terrorist attack' and says her 'thoughts are with the victims' families'

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Theresa May slammed the ‘appalling terrorist attack’ and says her ‘thoughts are with the victims’ families’

Ewitnesses told how they heard the first blast as Ariana left the stage.

Cherry Dale, 12, and Halle Norris, 10, travelled with dad Andy Andrews, 33, and Halle’s mum Chloe Nayman, 28, from Middlesborough.

Cherry said: “Ariana finished her last song, Dangerous Woman, and said goodbye and thank you. Then there was a massive bang. Ariana Grande was running off the stage.

Around 100 members of the public line up to donate blood in Manchester city centre

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Around 100 members of the public line up to donate blood in Manchester city centre

Tearful fans outside the Park Inn hotel in Manchester this morning

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Tearful fans outside the Park Inn hotel in Manchester this morning

“That was the first explosion then another went off in a tunnel as people were running out of the arena. People were screaming and hiding under chairs.

“We saw one little boy who was about six get knocked over and people were running over him. The second bomb was close to us.

“It was as we were leaving. Everyone was walking out of the tunnels and it was like the bomb had been thrown in the tunnel where everyone was running.

“Outside, people were running in front of cars crying, they just wanted to be safe.”

Cherry said: “It was the first time we’ve been to a concert. It was so frightening. We saw one little boy who was about six get knocked over and people were running over him. We couldn’t see him after that. He was just lost.

Dramatic footage captured the moment concert-goers ran for their lives

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Dramatic footage captured the moment concert-goers ran for their lives

Emergency crews were on the scene within minutes of the blast

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Emergency crews were on the scene within minutes of the blast

“A woman came here and she was covered in from her head to her toes. She’d been hit in the back in the explosion and an ambulance came and took her away.”

Chloe said: “People were laying on the floor like there was a gunman and people were running out.

“There was children up my waist, little ones screaming and crying.

“People were just frantic. I was trying to gather the smaller children to guide them out safely. There was people screaming, banging into each other.

“As we were running to the hotel holding hands we saw two little girls screaming for their parents. I took them and said, ‘come with us, you’ll be safe with us.’

“The little girl’s phone rang. It was the ambulance, they had her father. He’d been hit in the chest with shrapnel.

“I took the phone and spoke to them to tell him they were safe.

“Their mum had gone to another hospital. We don’t know how she is still. Her aunt came for her and the police took them to their parents.”

Paramedics attend to a bloodied victim outside the arena

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Paramedics attend to a bloodied victim outside the arena

Forensic teams search the bomb site for clues this morning

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Forensic teams search the bomb site for clues this morning

Michael Harrison, 25, a business analyst from Manchester, was in his flat nearby when he heard the blast.

Speaking outside the arena this morning he said: “We were just in our flat watching telly when there was this almighty bang.

“There are building works going on in our block so we thought it could be connected to that at first.

“But then we saw people streaming out of the arena down Cheetham Hill Road. They looked really shocked. Some we carrying balloons.

“Then we saw on Twitter that it was a terror attack.

“We were in shock. You just don’t think anything like that will happen in your city.”

Former MoD counter-terror boss Major General Chip Chapman told Sky News today: “The suicide bomb aspect shows that this is absolutely jihadi, Islamist terrorism.

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Thousands run screaming after ‘explosions’ at Ariana Grande gig in Manchester Arena

Concert-goers screamed and fled in panic as a terrorist detonated a huge bomb

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Concert-goers screamed and fled in panic as a terrorist detonated a huge bomb

Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena

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Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena

The scene at Manchester Royal Infirmary as the death toll from the Manchester bomb attack rose to 22

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The scene at Manchester Royal Infirmary as the death toll from the Manchester bomb attack rose to 22

Flags have been lowered to half-mast in Downing Street in honour of the victims

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Flags have been lowered to half-mast in Downing Street in honour of the victims

A man carries some flowers to the scene of where 22 concert-goers have been reported killed

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A man carries some flowers to the scene of where 22 concert-goers have been reported killed

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PM Theresa May delivers defiant statement after terror attack at Ariana Grande gig in Manchester“You can rule out separatist terrorism from Northern Ireland and we can rule out right-wing terrorism.

“They’ll be looking at whether there’s a network there or whether this is a lone individual.

“Most of the time it’s not a lone individual, it’s very rare that you’ll find someone who’s able to construct a bomb as a lone individual.

“I probably think this guy was on a database.”

Witnesses told how nuts and bolts were sent flying in the blast at the foyer area as fans made their way to Manchester Victoria train station next door.

The attack came on the fourth anniversary of the murder of British soldier  Lee Rigby and just two months after four were slaughtered when a Hyundai 4×4 driver mowed down people on Westminster Bridge, central London.

Shocking pictures and video footage have shown the bloodied injured leaving the 21,000 capacity arena as passers-by rushed to try and help.

Paramedics at the scene told the BBC of “shrapnel-like injuries”, suggesting the explosion could have been caused by a nail bomb.

There are many children among the 22 killed in the Manchester attack, Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins said.

Shocking. Horrendous. Love and light to all affected. Sickened by the world we live in, at times. Cowardly.

Mr Hopkins said the lone male attacker, who died in the blast, was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated.

He added: “This has been the most horrific incident we have had to face in Greater Manchester and one that we all hoped we would never see.

“Families and many young people were out to enjoy a concert at the Manchester Arena and have lost their lives.

A man carries a young girl on his shoulders near the scene of the attack

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A man carries a young girl on his shoulders near the scene of the attack

A young boy and his dog are helped to safety

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A young boy and his dog are helped to safety

Dozens were injured in the terror attack which happened as the gig finished

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Dozens were injured in the terror attack which happened as the gig finished

An injured fan is led away from the carnage

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An injured fan is led away from the carnage

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GM Chief Constable Ian Hopkins gives briefing following Manchester Arena explosion

Fans comfort each other after the attack

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Fans comfort each other after the attack

“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.

“This is a fast-moving investigation and we have significant resources deployed to both the investigation and the visible patrols that people will see across Greater Manchester as they wake up to news of the events last night.

“This will include armed officers as people would expect.

“More than 400 officers have been involved in this operation during the night.

Armed police escort a stretcher carrying a casualty down the steps at Manchester Arena

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Armed police escort a stretcher carrying a casualty down the steps at Manchester Arena

The roads around the arena were sealed off after the attack

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The roads around the arena were sealed off after the attack

Police chief constable Ian Hopkins speaks to the media in Manchester

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Police chief constable Ian Hopkins speaks to the media in Manchester

This young fan is in safe hands after the deadly attack

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This young fan is in safe hands after the deadly attack

Bomb disposal teams were called to the attack site

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Bomb disposal teams were called to the attack site

“We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe, at this stage, the attack last night was conducted by one man.

“The priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.

“The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena.

“We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated causing this atrocity.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd arriving in Downing Street for a COBRA meeting on the terror attack

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Home Secretary Amber Rudd arriving in Downing Street for a COBRA meeting on the terror attack

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Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham pays tribute to victims of the Manchester Arena explosion

Armed cops patrolling the streets of Manchester this morning

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Armed cops patrolling the streets of Manchester this morning

“The station will remain closed while a detailed forensic search is underway.

“People should plan their route to work and follow Transport for Greater Manchester for updates on social media.

“Terrorists attempt to disrupt our lives and create distrust and fear in communities.

“We have a long history in Greater Manchester of communities standing together during difficult times.

“In the coming days we will be working closely with community leaders to address any issues.

A young fan is comforted as she leaves the Park Inn hotel in central Manchester

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A young fan is comforted as she leaves the Park Inn hotel in central Manchester

One of the walking wounded heads home after being treated for his injuries

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One of the walking wounded heads home after being treated for his injuries

Armed police on the streets after the suicide attack

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Armed police on the streets after the suicide attack

By the early hours the streets were clear of people

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By the early hours the streets were clear of people

“It is important that we all continue to remain vigilant, but also to go about our daily lives. We would ask people to be alert and report any suspicious activity to police on the Anti-Terrorist Hotline 0800 789321 or dialling 999.”

Anyone with images or footage that can assist the investigation should be uploaded to UK police image appeal online.

PRIME MINISTER HALTS ELECTION CAMPAIGN

THERESA May has condemned the “appalling terrorist attack” at Manchester Arena – as all parties suspended General Election campaigns.

The PM said her thoughts were with the families of victims of last night’s explosion, which left 22 dead.

She has called an emergency Cobra meeting for 9am this morning.

In a brief statement, the Prime Minister said: “We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack.

“All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he had spoken with Mrs May.

He said: “We have agreed that all national campaigning in the general election will be suspended until further notice.”

He added: “I am horrified by the horrendous events in Manchester last night.

“My thoughts are with families and friends of those who have died and been injured.

“Today the whole country will grieve for the people who have lost their lives.”

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Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Ian Hopkins gives statement following arena ‘terror attack’

Cherry Dale, 12 (right) , and Halle Norris, 10, travelled Halle’s mum Chloe Nayman

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Cherry Dale, 12 (right) , and Halle Norris, 10, travelled Halle’s mum Chloe Nayman

Flowers left close to the Manchester Arena, the morning after a suicide bomber killed 22

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Flowers left close to the Manchester Arena, the morning after a suicide bomber killed 22

We Love Manchester signs have begun to pop up around the city in a show of solidarity

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We Love Manchester signs have begun to pop up around the city in a show of solidarity

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Appeal for missing people following Manchester Arena terrorist attack at Ariana Grande concertBomb squads were called in and carried out a controlled explosion on a suspicious item, which was later found to be abandoned clothing.

British Transport Police have confirmed the first explosion went off in the foyer area of the stadium, adding that emergency services are working to establish the cause and ask people to avoid the area.

Manchester’s Victoria Station, which backs onto the arena, was evacuated following the blast, and all train services were suspended for Tuesday.

British officials have yet to make a statement about the nature of the blast but security minister Ben Wallace has called for vigilance and asked anyone who sees anything suspicious to call the anti-terror hotline on 0800 789123.

Manchester Royal Infirmary declared a major incident at 11.10pm and cleared its A&E department to treat the victims.

Victoria Station

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A police officer patrols Victoria Station, near to the Manchester Arena

‘BROKEN’ ARIANA CALLS OFF TOUR

Ariana Grande has posted a heartbreaking statement saying she is “broken” following the terror attack.

The 23-year-old pop star, who was confirmed to be safe following the massacre, posted the emotional message on her Twitter account.

She said: “Broken from the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.”

The singer is believed to have called off her world tour, having cancelled her gig in London on Thursday and put her entire European tour on hold, according to TMZ.

Were you at Manchester Arena on Monday evening? Call 0207 782 4368 or email tips@the-sun.co.uk

Courtney Spencer, a 17-year-old student who was at the concert with a pal, told The Sun: “It happened just in front of us at the top of the stairs. We didn’t know what had happened.

“It could have been a gun or a bang or an explosion.

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“We just grabbed each other and got away. One lass was laying in her mother’s arms. I’m not sure if she has collapsed in shock or was injured.”

Abby Mullen said she was also leaving the venue at the time of the blast and refuted earlier claims it had been caused by a speaker or balloon, which had circulated on social media after the explosion.

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Fans flee from seats in the Manchester Arena as panic spreads after explosion

A man injured in the suspected terrorist attack at Manchester Arena at the scene

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A man injured in the suspected terrorist attack at Manchester Arena at the scene

She wrote on Facebook: “As we where leaving a bomb or explosion went off centimetres in front of me.

“Peoples skin/blood&faeces where everywhere including in my hair & on my bag. I’m still finding bits of god knows what in my hair. I am fine & back in my hotel I hope everyone involved and in front of me is okay.”

Chris Parker, 33, was walking through the station towards the box office when one explosion went off.

He said he saw at least six ­people seriously injured on the floor and told The Sun: “I was walking through and one huge bang went off.

“There was nuts and bolts flying everywhere, and also human flesh. It was just one bang and a white flash. I treated a woman called Pauline. I’ve got blood on my hands. It was like a war zone inside where the box office is.

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Controlled explosion in Cathedral gardens following Manchester concert ‘terrorist incident’

Armed police at the scene in Manchester after an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert

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Armed police at the scene in Manchester after an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert

Pictures from inside the venue show concertgoers rushing for the exit

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Pictures from inside the venue show concertgoers rushing for the exit

“There looked to be at least six people potentially fatally wounded. I saw one woman’s leg off. It is mayhem.”

Concert-goer Majid Khan, 22, added: “I and my sister, along with a lot of others were seeing Ariana Grande perform at Manchester Arena, and we were all exiting the venue when around 10.40-10.45pm-ish a huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena.

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Girl in Manchester terror attack says she will go to concerts again”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 as they were trying to exit Trinity Way and that was blocked so everyone was just running to any exit they could find as quickly as they could.

“Everyone was in a huge state of panic, calling each other as some had gone to the toilet whilst this had gone off, so it was just extremely disturbing for everyone there.”

There is a huge police presence in Manchester tonight as emergency services respond

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There is a huge police presence in Manchester as emergency services respond

Ariana Grande has finished her performance at Manchester Arena shortly before tonight the blast

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Ariana Grande had finished her performance at Manchester Arena shortly before the blast

Armed police quickly arrived at the scene followed by bomb squads

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Armed police quickly arrived at the scene followed by bomb squads

Concertgoers are seen fleeing the venue through the streets of Manchester tonight

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Concert-goers are seen fleeing the venue through the streets of Manchester

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Armed police on the scene in Manchester after reports of explosion at Ariana Grande concert

Kirstyn Pollard was at the gig for her daughter Grace’s ninth birthday

“Ariana Grande came on for an encore, she blew a kiss to the audience, walked off – and then the bang happened,” she said.

“We were at the front right and the bang seemed to come from the back left, and then suddenly you just heard screaming and everybody was running from the back towards the front, it was just sheer chaos.

“We made our way to the side and I was looking down thinking, I thought if this is like Paris, if there’s anything else going on I’m going to get off via the stage.

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Ariana Grande fan films star performing minutes before deadly Manchester terror attack”I thought it sounded like a bomb. Some people said it was a balloon – but I knew it was a bomb.
“I think it’s appalling – there were so many children there.

“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. But you can’t let them win can you, we’re going to carry on, we’re going to go to more concerts.”

A person holds a lit candle during a prayer session with the Dean of Manchester near the Manchester Arena

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A person holds a lit candle during a prayer session with the Dean of Manchester near the Manchester Arena

Walking casualties leave a nearby hotel that took in people from the Manchester Arena stadium

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Walking casualties leave a nearby hotel that took in people from the Manchester Arena stadium

Armed police on duty today at Piccadilly Station

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Armed police on duty today at Piccadilly Station

Manchester Arena said: “We can confirm there was an incident as people were leaving the Ariana Grande show last night.

“The incident took place outside the venue in a public space.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims.”

A Twitter user said: “Everyone screamed and ran out I’ve never been so scared in my life.”

Another added: “Just got out of Manchester arena after seeing Ariana perform. There was a loud bang when the lights came on & everyone ran out screaming.”

In the aftermath of the explosion youngsters struggled to get home with the city’s kindhearted residents offering places to stay and taxi drivers giving free trips.

Police rush to Manhcester Arena as crowds are seen fleeing

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Police rush to Manchester Arena as crowds are seen fleeing

Thousands were at the arena watching a performance by Ariana Grande

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Thousands were at the arena watching a performance by Ariana Grande

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Emergency services head towards the MEN Arena amid reports of ‘loud bangs’Politicians have reacted to Monday evening’s shocking scenes.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said her thoughts are with the victims and families of those affected in “what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack”.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “This is a shocking and horrific attack targeting children and young people who were simply enjoying a concert.

“My deepest sympathies are with the victims, and with families who have lost loved ones, as well as those desperately waiting for news.

“I would like to pay tribute to the bravery and dedication of the emergency services.

Casualties are carried out of the arena in Manchester this evening as the hospital declared a state of emergency

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Casualties are carried out of the arena in Manchester this evening as the hospital declared a state of emergency

“This is an attack on innocent people and the nation is united both in its grief and its determination to stand up to this kind of deplorable attack.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “Terrible incident in Manchester. My thoughts are with all those affected and our brilliant emergency services.”

Newly elected Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham tweeted: “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.”

US President Donald Trump has offered his condolences to the victims who lost their lives and their families in the Manchester terror attack which killed at least 22 people.

“I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured… and to the so many families of the victims. We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom.

US President Donald Trump has offered his condolences to the victims

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US President Donald Trump has offered his condolences to the victims

“So many young beautiful and innocent people enjoying and living their lives, murdered… by evil losers in life,” he added, calling on the international community to rally to “protect human life” from terror.

Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, who played Hayley in Coronation Street, was among those tweeting asking for information with her daughter and husband caught up in the chaos.

She said: “My husband and daughter safe but what is happening at MEN please? They were told mass panic after loud noise that wasn’t explosion.”

Major General Chip Chapman, former MoD counter-terror boss discusses the network needed for a terroristOthers have turned to social media in a bid to check on relatives with a Holiday Inn in the city taking in unaccompanied children.

Manchester Arena, the largest indoor arena in Europe, opened in 1995 and is a popular concert and sporting venue.

Britain is on its second-highest alert level of “severe” meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely.

For the latest news on this story keep checking back at Sun Online, where we will bring you live updates as soon as they happen, before anyone else.
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Trump Arrives in Italy to Meet Pope Francis, Italian Leaders

May 23, 2017

ROME — U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Italy on Tuesday ahead of meetings with Pope Francis and Italian leaders, on the third leg of his first international trip since taking office.

Trump’s meeting with the head of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics on Wednesday comes after the pair sparred at a distance on issues including migration, climate change and Islam.

Air Force One landed at Leonardo da Vinci airport, where Trump and his wife Melania were greeted by Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano. The pair were then driven to the residence of the U.S. ambassador in the heart of Rome.

Trump is due to spend less than 24 hours in Italy before flying to Brussels for talks with European Union and NATO chiefs. He will return to Italy on Thursday for a summit of the Group of Seven (G7) major industrialized nations in Sicily.

The U.S. president started his tour of the Middle East and Europe in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. He has spent the last two days in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

The White House hopes the ambitious, multi-nation trip, which ends on May 27, will shift focus away from domestic controversies and on to foreign policy.

After his encounter with the pope, Trump will hold brief talks with President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Massive security precautions have been taken in Rome, with the areas around the presidential palace, Vatican City, the American ambassador’s residence and the U.S. embassy temporarily closed to traffic.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

‘Islamic State’ claims Manchester Arena suicide bombing

May 23, 2017

Wounded people inside the Manchester Arena after a bombing at an Ariana Grande concert on Monday evening. Credit Press Association, via Associated Press

‘Islamic State’ has claimed the bombing of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester which killed 22 people. Police say they have arrested a 23-year-old man, and are working to identify a suspect killed in the attack.

– Police confirm 22 people have died after an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert. More than 50 others were injured.  

– Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, which police say was carried out by one man using an improvised explosive device.

– Police say a 23-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the bombing. There are reports that a raid was carried out in the Whalley Range area of the city.

Police and other emergency services are seen near the Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion. Police have confirmed they are responding to an incident during an Ariana Grande concert at the venue.

Rex Features | AP Images
Police and other emergency services are seen near the Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion. Police have confirmed they are responding to an incident during an Ariana Grande concert at the venue.

The “Islamic State” (IS) militant group said it was responsible for the Manchester Arena attack, which it said had been carried out with a device that was planted at the arena.

IS is known to make such claims even where it has not had direct involvement in planning and orchestrating specific terror attacks.

Police, who contrastingly said an improvised explosive device was carried by the attacker, said late on Tuesday morning that they had arrested a suspect linked to the bombing. The bomber is believed to have been carrying an identification document on him.

There were reports early on Tuesday afternoon that police had carried out a raid in the Whalley Range area of the city.

With regards to last night’s incident at the Manchester arena, we can confirm we have arrested a 23-year-old man in South Manchester.

Hundreds fled the Manchester Arena after two large bangs on Monday evening. Video posted on Twitter showed fans streaming out of the venue where a concert attended by mainly teenagers and children had been taking place.

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said police believed the incident was carried out by one man. The attacker died at the arena in an explosion caused by an improvised explosive device, Hopkins said. While he did not give an age range of the victims, he confirmed children were among the dead.

One of the victims was reported to be eight years old.

Hopkins said forensic investigators were still determining whether the attacker had accomplices. He said there was still no information about the individual who had detonated the device, adding it was “the most horrific incident” the city had ever faced.

Theresa May condemns suicide bombing as ‘worst of humanity’

Manchester and the world show solidarity with concert attack victims

World leaders condemn Manchester attack

By Tuesday morning, there had been an uneasy calm in the city center as the working day began, DW’s Lars Bevanger noted. Major roads as well as the city’s Victoria railway station were closed. One of the victims

Unusual calm near arena as people try to make their way to work. Large area cordoned off for ongoing investigation.

Towards noon, however, there was some panic as police evacuated the city’s Arndale Center shopping mall. An arrest was made but this was said not to be related to the bombing. The mall was subsequently reopened, but police asked people to avoid the city center.

Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency committee, COBRA, on Tuesday morning. Subsequently, May announced that police believed they knew the identity of the suicide bomber.

Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham said the city would show resilience in the face of the attack.

“These were children and young people and their families that those responsible chose to terrorize and kill,” said Burnham. “This was an evil act. We are grieving today but we are strong. Today it will be business as usual – as far as possible – in our great city.”

Manchester Arena incident. Armed police at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig (picture-alliance/empics/PA Wire/P. Byrne)Armed police swarmed the area after the incident

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd called the incident “a barbaric attack, deliberately targeting some of the most vulnerable in our society – young people and children out at a pop concert.”

Eyewitness reports

Concert attendee Majid Khan, 22, told The Guardian newspaper a bomb-like bang went off as people were exiting the 18,000-capacity venue, leading to a mass panic. “Everyone was in a huge state of panic, calling each other as some had gone to the toilet whilst this had gone off, so it was just extremely disturbing for everyone there,” he was quoted as saying.

Concertgoer Catherine Macfarlane told the Reuters news agency: “Everyone was screaming and people were running. It was a huge explosion – you could feel it in your chest. It was chaotic. Everybody was running and screaming and just trying to get out.”

Großbritannien Polizeieinsatz in Manchester (picture-alliance/ZUMA/London News Pictures/J. Goodman)

Witnesses described panicked crowds rushing the exits

One eyewitness said metal nuts appeared to have been packed into the explosive device.The BBC has reported that people were treated for “shrapnel-like injuries.” The Manchester Evening News said staff at Wythenshawe Hospital in South Manchester told people without life-threatening injuries to leave the emergency room.

There was ​condemnation of the attack from around the world  with flags flying at half mast in Berlin and Brussels.

The US singer Ariana Grande has wide appeal among a young audience, after finding success on the children’s TV channel Nickelodeon. Early Tuesday morning, Grande spoke of her sorrow on Twitter.

Local residents offered their homes up to people affected by the incident using the hashtag #RoomForManchester.

Manchester police set up an emergency number for those involved in the blast.

An emergency number is available for those who are concerned about loved ones or anyone who may have been in the area – 0161 856 9400

Manchester was previously targeted by terrorists in June 1996, in a bomb attack that leveled a section of the city center. More than 200 people were injured in that attack, carried out by the IRA, although there were no fatalities.

There were reports on Tuesday morning that police had closed London’s Victoria Coach Station and surrounding streets, after a suspect package was found in the area.