UK Prime Minister Theresa May has raised Britain’s security threat level from “severe” to “critical”, meaning further attacks may be imminent.
The announcement by the UK prime minister came just hours after police identified 22-year-old Salman Abedi as the perpetrator of the Monday’s deadly suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena indoor venue at the end of the concert by U.S. pop singer Ariana Grande, attended by thousands of children and teenagers, that left 22 people dead.
Salman Abedi, a British man of Libyan origin, carried out Monday’s suicide bomb attack, died at the scene after killing 22 others and injuring more than 50 in the attack on concert-goers at the Manchester Arena, one of the officials said.
Sources reporting from Manchester, said it appeared that the attack was carried out with “more planning and more sophistication”, in comparison with the attack on Parliament in London in March.
It was an improvised explosive device that went off as thousands of mostly young fans streamed out of Manchester Arena in the northern English city at the end of US artist Ariana Grande’s performance, police said.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group claimed responsibility through its social media channels for the attack, saying “one of the caliphate’s soldiers placed bombs among the crowds”.
In her speech late on Tuesday, May said “it is a possibility” that the government “cannot ignore that there is a wider group of individuals linked to this attack”.
“It is now concluded on the basis of today’s investigations that the threat level should be increased for the time being,” she said.
The highest threat level, which is decided by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, a group of experts from the police, government departments and agencies, has only been reached twice before.
The first time the threat level was raised to critical was in 2006 during a major operation to stop a plot to blow up transatlantic airliners with liquid bombs.
The following year, security chiefs raised it once more as they hunted for the men who had tried to bomb a London nightclub, before going on to attack Glasgow Airport.
Last night, after chairing a meeting of the emergency response committee COBRA, British Prime Minister Theresa May had said that soldiers would be placed in key public locations, these include Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, embassies and the Palace of Westminster, to support the armed police in protecting the public.
In London, the Metropolitan Police said the military would provide “static armed guarding at key locations” including Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, embassies and the Houses of Parliament. This would free up armed police officers to carry out patrols, the Metropolitan Police said.
Following what British Prime Minister Theresa May called a ‘callous terrorist attack in Manchester’, leaders from around the world expressed condolences, solidarity, resolve and anger.
May,said the attack “stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice deliberately targeting innocent defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Pained by the attack in Manchester. We strongly condemn it. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased & prayers with the injured.”
“I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack, and to the many killed, and to the families ,so many families of the victims,” President Trump said, hours after the Monday night attack that left 22 people dead, including children, and about five dozen others injured.
“We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom”, Trump said.
On Wednesday troops were deployed to support the police in a plan known as “Operation Temperer” in reinforcing security at sensitive public spaces and events across the country.
Under Operation Temperer “up to 3,800 troops” would be under the command of the police.
“That system has now been put in place. It has been well rehearsed and people are likely to see some more military on the streets which I hope will give them the reassurance they must be seeking,” UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said.
The Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, a draw for tourists, was cancelled because it requires support from police officers, which authorities decided was not a good use of police resources given the threat level.
Chelsea soccer club said it had cancelled a victory parade that had been scheduled to take place in London on Sunday to celebrate its Premier League title.
Several high-profile sporting events are coming up in Britain, including the soccer FA Cup final at London’s Wembley Stadium and the English rugby club competition final at Twickenham on Saturday and the UEFA Champions League final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on June 3.
Britain also has a national election scheduled for June 8. All campaigning was suspended after the attack, although the UK Independence Party said it would resume its campaign activities on Thursday.
France, which has repeatedly been hit by devastating militant attacks since 2015, extended emergency powers.
Attacks in cities including Paris, Nice, Brussels, St Petersburg, Berlin and London in the last two years have shocked Europeans already anxious over security challenges from mass immigration and pockets of domestic Islamic radicalism.
Islamic State, now being driven from territories in Syria and Iraq by Western-backed armed forces, claimed responsibility for the Manchester attack, but there appeared to be contradictions in its account of the operation.