London, May 23: Britain’s political parties have suspended their general election campaigning in light of a fatal explosion in Manchester.
Police say 21 people were killed, including children, and 59 injured after a blast at the Manchester Arena, which was hosting a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande.
Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, and other political party leaders all issued statements of condolences with the victims, condemning what police now believe is a terror incident.
Ms May 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 Mr Corbyn said: “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.
“I have spoken with Andy Burnham, the mayor of Manchester, who has fully briefed me on the operational response in the city.
“I would like to pay tribute to the emergency services for their bravery and professionalism in dealing with last night’s appalling events.
“I have spoken with the Prime Minister and we have agreed that that all national campaigning in the general election will be suspended until further notice.”
Tim Farron said: “The country is united in grief after this devastating terror attack. Just as the country is focusing all its thoughts on the victims and their families, so politicians should come together in solidarity and respect for the innocent people caught up in this vile attack.
“The emergency services have shown the highest levels of bravery and professionalism and deserve our deepest thanks.
“The Liberal Democrats will suspend all national campaigning until further notice.”
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: ”I would like to pay tribute to the emergency services for their bravery and professionalism in dealing with last night’s appalling events. I have spoken with the prime minister and we have agreed that all national campaigning in the general election will be suspended until further notice.”
SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the news as “heartbreaking” and the attack as “barbaric”.
Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said: ”Our thoughts are with those affected by this appalling incident in Manchester. For young people to be targeted in this way is utterly atrocious.
“As ever our emergency services have done us proud - and we pay tribute to the police, firefighters and paramadics who stepped up in this time of need.
“Our country will never be divided by terror. The people of Manchester showed last night just how strong the bond of friendship is between the people who live on these islands - and in the coming days and weeks we’ll show that we won’t let terrorism tear us apart.”
The Prime Minister will today chair a meeting of the emergency COBRA committee at around 9am, attended by senior ministers and intelligence officials.
Greater Manchester Police said the lone male attacker was carrying an improved explosive device and detonated it, also killing himself in the blast. Witnesses said a bomb went off in the foyer of the building. PTI