ROME — On learning about the terrorist attack Tuesday night in Manchester, England, in which at least 22 people were killed, including children, when a suicide bomber detonated explosives during a concert by pop star Ariana Grande, Pope Francis said he was “deeply saddened.”
“His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack in Manchester, and he expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence,” a telegram released by the Vatican and signed by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin stated.
“Mindful in a particular way of those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families, Pope Francis invokes God’s blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation,” the telegram says.
The local bishop was among the first Catholic leaders to react, saying that such a thing “can have no justification.”
“We must all commit ourselves to working together, in every way, to help the victims and their families and to build and strengthen our community solidarity,” said Bishop John Arnold, of Salford, the Catholic diocese in which Manchester is located.
The prelate thanked the emergency services for their “prompt and speedy response” and promised to be joined in prayer “for all those who have died and for the injured and their families and all affected by this tragedy.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, of the Archdiocese of Westminster in London, sent a letter to Arnold on Tuesday, expressing his condolences for the attack.
“It was with great sorrow that I heard the media reports of last night’s atrocity, in Manchester,” he said. “May God welcome into His merciful presence all who have died. May God turn the hearts of all who commit evil to a true understanding of His desire and intention for humanity.”
Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, expressed his condolences through Twitter:
Heroic Manchester, dark evil cannot overcome it. We pray for those in sorrow on the hard journey of loss & pain, & for those who protect us
— Justin Welby ن (@JustinWelby) May 23, 2017
The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, will chair a meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra committee at 9 a.m. London time today. In an overnight statement, May said: “We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack.”
Greater Manchester Police has said that the lone attacker, who died in the blast, was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated.
In a statement released in the early morning, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins confirmed that at least 22 people are known to have been killed in what at this point is being labeled a terror attack at Manchester Arena. Another 59 were injured.
“We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe that while the attack last night was conducted by one man,” Hopkins said in his statement, “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,” he also said. “We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing this atrocity.”
He also requested that no names be shared, since a “complex and wide-ranging investigation [is] under way.”
The explosive was detonated after the sold-out show had ended, outside the 21,000-seat Manchester Arena.
Relatives of those who were at the concert are using social media to try to track them down. Many were underage, as Grande is a 24-year old pop star who became famous because of her role of Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon TV show “Victorious” in 2009.
The singer went to social media to apologize for the incident, although as her followers quickly said reacting to it, the bombing was not her fault:
from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 23, 2017
Many other singers reacted to the news through Twitter, including Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Bruno Mars, who said, “I don’t wanna believe that the world we live in could be so cruel.”
Politicians also joined the chorus of voices condemning the attack, which specifically targeted thousands of young people, of all backgrounds and faiths. Among them was Italian president Paolo Gentiloni, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo and India’s prime minister Narendra Modi.
The first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said the news of the “barbaric attack” was “heartbreaking.”
Sean Spicer, spokesman of the White House, confirmed that President Donald Trump, on a visit to Israel, is being updated on the situation in Manchester:
National Security Team is providing updates to @POTUS on situation in #manchesterexplosion
— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) May 23, 2017
Later on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said that the “wicked ideology” behind the attack must be “obliterated.”
In remarks delivered alongside Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Trump echoed a message he has delivered in Saudi Arabia and Israel, calling on countries to root out terrorism.
“I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack and to the many killed and the families – so many families of the victims,” he said, describing his emotions on this “horrible morning of death.”