The latest heinous terror attack in Europe has the young face of children and teenagers. It was shortly after 10.30 pm last night, a few minutes after the end of the concert of Ariana Grande, US pop-star loved especially by youths, at Manchester Arena, when a deafening, horrific roar sparked off panic among the audience. An explosive device filled with nails and metal fragments used as shrapnel took the life of 22 people; 60 were left wounded. Unfortunately many children figure to be among the victims of the suicide-bomber. British premier Theresa May spoke to the nation from Downing Street, before leaving for Manchester in the afternoon.
“Many casualties are in severe conditions and are fighting for life.”
Law enforcement authorities know the identity of the attacker, but they said they cannot reveal it at this stage of investigation. “This attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent, defenceless children and young people with the purpose to cause maximum carnage”, the Premier said. “There will be difficult days ahead. But while we experienced the worst of humanity in Manchester last night we also saw the best. The terrorists will not win. Our values will always prevail.”
Pope Francis said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack.” He expressed his “heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence for the many casualties and loss of human lives”. In the telegram, the Pope commended “the generous efforts of the emergency and security personnel”, and offered the assurance of his prayers “for the injured, and for all who have died”, in particular “for those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families.”
Words of sympathy and sorrow were promptly conveyed by religious leaders. In a statement the archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols called on the Country to remain “united in the face of evil.” In a letter to the Catholic bishop of Manchester he wrote: “May God grant strength and enduring faith to all who are bereaved, injured and traumatised. 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.”
“Such an attack can have no justification”, said Catholic bishop John Arnold, at the lead of the diocese of Salford, which comprises the city of Manchester. “We join in prayer for all those who have died and for the injured and their families and all affected by this tragedy.” “We must all commit to working together – the bishop added – to help the victims and their families and to build and strengthen our community solidarity.” The Anglican bishop of Manchester, David Walker, underlined that “many lives will be lived out forever by this tragedy.” The challenge, he added, “will be to direct that rage and anger to be a force for good.” The thoughts of the archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby are on the same wavelength: “Heroic Manchester, dark evil cannot overcome it. We pray for those in sorrow on the hard journey of loss and pain, and for those who protect us.”
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 Manchester attack is the most tragic terror attack on British soil since July 7 2005, when four bombs placed by Al Qaida terrorists on public transport buses killed 56 people, including the four suicide bombers, wounding 700 people. Two months have passed since past March 22 last year, when a car ploughed into a dozen people on Westminster bridge, a few meters away from the British Parliament. The assailant then got out of the car and attacked a police officer on guard at the entrance of the building. Welby wrote: “We have faced terror attacks before, and we shall not be defeated by this one.”
The British Muslim community is united in grief with the whole Country. “My thoughts and prayers go to the victims and to their families”, wrote Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain. He added:
“I understand teenagers and children have been caught up in what the police has confirmed to be a terrorist attack. This is horrific, this is criminal. May the perpetrators face the full weight of justice both in this life and the next.”
The President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) Ronald S. Lauder delivered a call to unity. “The world stands united in its resolve to confront and defeat the scourge of terrorism. Our liberties and our way of life shall triumph.”
Solidarity to the people of Britain was conveyed by a number of European Bishops’ Conferences. The French Bishops promptly conveyed their bereavement. The Secretary General, Mons. Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, wrote: “We condemn violence and hatred, and always will. We are committed for peace, and always will be.” The President of Irish Bishops Msgr. Eamon Martin equally conveyed words of sorrow and shock.
From Brussels, the President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker on behalf of the European political community, said in a message to British people: “We will work side by side with you to fight back against those who seek to destroy our way of life. They underestimate ours and your resilience.
these cowardly attacks will only strengthen our commitment to work together to defeat the perpetrators of such vile acts.”