I’m still trying to get my head around the events of last night, and I want to make it absolutely clear that there’s still a huge amount we don’t know, and we should be careful about sharing pictures, videos, or reports that don’t come from a credible source. Misinformation is dangerous, and there are plenty of people who want to sow as much hate and fear as possible – we should not give them the satisfaction.
At this moment in time (8:45 GMT), there have been 22 confirmed fatalities and 59 injured from what appears to have been an improvised explosive device detonated in Manchester Arena, after an Ariana Grande concert. Police are treating this as a terrorist incident committed by a lone attacker who died in the blast, but may have been part of a wider network. We don’t know the identity of the attacker, and at this point we shouldn’t make any assumptions.
This comes just 2 months (exactly) after the Westminster attack here in London, which killed 6, including the attacker, and injured 49. The feelings I had on that day came back last night: were my friends safe? Admittedly, many more of my friends live in London, and it was a bit of panic until I realised they were all fine, but ridiculous scenarios run through your head. Even though my boyfriend worked a reasonable distance from Westminster, had he decided to go to lunch there? Had one of my friends decided to have a look round Westminster Abbey? As much as you try to be logical, these fears take over. I received a phone call from my mum shortly after the news broke, saying that she knew I worked a mile or so from Westminster, but was I alright?
It was with huge relief that I found out that my friends in Manchester were safe yesterday, which brought into sharp focus the fact that there were people who didn’t receive that news. We can do nothing more than support them and stand together in solidarity. London is a great city, and we didn’t let the attack scare us into hiding, as scary as it can be going out in public after an attack. Manchester is a great city too, and the people there are filled with as much resilience and compassion as they are here. Outsiders often think of England as being one of two things: quaint or uptight. We are quiet, perhaps, but we are strong, and we care deeply for everyone around us, and we do not bow to fear. All our hearts are with Manchester while it copes with this tragedy, which I’m sure it will meet with bravery and kindness. London stands with you, as does the whole world.
I leave you with the words of Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London:
“London stands united with the great city of Manchester today after this barbaric and sickening attack. This was a cowardly act of terrorism that targeted a concert attended by thousands of children and young people.
My heart goes out to the victims, their families and everybody affected. Once again we have seen the heroism of our brave emergency services. They have our full support and are in all our thoughts today.
I am in constant contact with the Metropolitan Police, who are reviewing security arrangements in London. Londoners will see more police on our streets today.
Manchester and the rest of Britain will never be cowed by terrorism. Those who want to destroy our way of life and divide us will never succeed.”