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Police identify Manchester Arena bomber as 22-year old Salman Ramadan Abedi

Theresa May said bomber who killed 22 at Ariana Grande concert aimed for 'maximum carnage'
A woman and a young girl wearing a t-shirt of Ariana Grande talk to police near Manchester Arena on 23 May (AFP)

Police have confirmed the name of a suicide bomber who killed 22 people at the end of a Manchester concert as Salman Ramadan Abedi, a 22-year-old British man of Libyan descent.

The name was passed to UK media by US officials against the wishes of UK police, who nevertheless confirmed it, according to the Guardian. Abedi was known to the security services but was not flagged as high risk, police said.

The newspaper quoted shocked members of Manchester's Libyan community describing him as having been a "quiet" and "respectful" boy.

However, Mohammed Saeed, the imam of the mosque where Abedi prayed in Didsbury said that the young man had looked at him "with hate" after he gave a sermon criticising Islamic State and other militant groups in Libya in 2015, the paper reported.

Theresa May, the British prime minister, has said the bomber, who struck at about 10.30pm at the Manchester Arena on Monday evening, aimed to cause "maximum carnage" by detonating his bomb outside one of the exits.

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed the attack through its propaganda wing, Amaq, saying it had scored a "great victory" against the "crusaders" of Britain.

One of the youngest victims was named on Tuesday as Saffie Rose Roussos from Leyland, near Preston. She was eight years old.

Police on Tuesday said they have conducted raids in Manchester connected to the attack, and conducted a "controlled explosion" in the Fallowfield area where Abedi lived. A 23-year-old man was arrested in the south of the city.

"It is now beyond doubt that the people of Manchester and of this country have fallen victim to a callous terrorist attack, an attack that targeted some of the youngest people in our society with cold calculation," May said.

"We now know that a single terrorist detonated his improvised explosive device near one of the exits of the venue, deliberately choosing the time and place to cause maximum carnage and to kill and injure indiscriminately.

"The police and security services believe that the attack was carried out by one man but they now need to know whether he was acting alone or as part of a wider group.

Britain also has raised the terror threat level, indicating another attack is imminent, May said late Tuesday, adding that military personnel have been deployed to support armed police.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he had spoken to the prime minister and agreed that campaigning for the 8 June general election be suspended until further notice.

"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," he said in a statement.

On Tuesday evening thousands of people attended a vigil in central Manchester in sombre but defiant mood.

"There's hard times again in these streets of our city, but we won't take defeat and we don't want your pity, because this is the place where we stand strong together with a smile on our face, Mancunians forever," local poet Tony Walsh said in a poem he read to the crowd that drew loud cheers and applause.

British police do not routinely carry firearms, but London police said extra armed officers would be deployed at this weekend's soccer cup final at Wembley and rugby at Twickenham. Security would be reviewed also for smaller events.

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