Ariana Grande to host benefit concert in Manchester

HEARTBROKEN Ariana Grande has announced she will return to the 'incredibly brave city of Manchester' to hold a concert to raise money for victims of the Arena bombing.

Grande took to Twitter to say she will return to the city in the north of England, after a suicide bomber killed 22 people when he detonated a device at the end of her concert earlier this week.

In the emotional letter Grande wrote: "My heart, prayers and deepest condolences are with the victims of the Manchester Attack and their loved ones.

"There is nothing I or anyone can do to take away the pain you are feeling or to make this better," it continues.

Ariana Grande performs on stage in Manchester before a suicide bomber detonated a device, killing 22 and injuring a further 59.
Ariana Grande performs on stage in Manchester before a suicide bomber detonated a device, killing 22 and injuring a further 59. Instagram - alanandrews_1

Tributes left in St Ann's Square for the people who died in the attack. Picture: Getty
"However, I extend my hand and heart and everything I possibly can give to you and yours, should you want or need my help in any way."

"The only thing we can do now is choose how we let this affect us and how we live our lives from here on out.

"I have been thinking of my fans, and of you all, non stop over the past week."

Grande said she was inspired by the outpouring of compassion from her fans, calling it "the exact opposite of the heinous intentions it must take to pull off something as evil as what happened Monday."

"YOU are the opposite," she wrote.

Grande said she had yet to confirm when the concert will be held.

Grande's note came shortly before Greater Manchester Police said a concert by the Courteeners at Old Trafford on Saturday night would go ahead.

Police said "additional security checks" would be in place, concertgoers would be throughly searched and asked those attending not to bring bags with them.

Superintendent Chris Hill said: "I want to send out a clear message to everyone that we will not let these atrocities stop us from enjoying the things that mean the most to us.

"We must remain vigilant and live our lives as normal."


The announcement came after reports the Manchester suicide bomber reportedly spoke to his brother in Libya just 15 minutes before he detonated his explosives.

Salman Abedi's younger brother, Hashim Ramadan Abu Qassem al-Abedi - arrested in Libya following the bombing - knew of his brother's movements and about the plot, CNN reported, quoting a Libyan TV news source.

Despite talking to his brother, Hashim told his Libyan questioners that he did not know details about where and when the blast would be, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, Britain said on Friday it has arrested a "large part" of the network behind the attack, as UK police arrested an eleventh man in connection with the bombing.

The Sun reported that a 44-year-old man was arrested in the Rushholme area of Manchester on Friday afternoon on suspicion of offences contrary to the terrorism act.

Mark Rowley, head of Britain's counter-terrorism police, said police had got hold of "a large part of the network" linked to the atrocity in which seven children aged under 18 were among the 22 dead.

"We are very happy we've got our hands around some of the key players that we are concerned about but there's still a little bit more to do," he said.

Fans grab each other’s hands and flee in this frightening footage of the moment of the blast.
Fans grab each other’s hands and flee in this frightening footage of the moment of the blast. Twitter

Before Friday afternoon's arrest the eight men remained in custody over the bombing, ranging in age from 18 to 38, including a 30-year-old arrested in the Moss Side area of Manchester in the early hours of Friday. Two others have since been released without charge.

Also on Friday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said his government took full responsibility for leaks of the British police investigation into the bombing.

Appearing alongside British foreign secretary Boris Johnson in London on Friday, Mr Tillerson said "all across America, hearts are broken" at news of the attack on people attending a concert by US pop singer Ariana Grande.

British police briefly suspended intelligence sharing with the US on Thursday after private details of their investigation repeatedly appeared in American media.

"We take full responsibility for that and we obviously regret that that happened," Mr Tillerson said.

"With respect to the release of information inappropriately ... certainly we condemn that."


It also emerged on Friday that al-Abedi had been planning the attack for over a year, stockpiling nails and screws from DIY stores bought using a dormant bank account, it has emerged.

The Sun reports Salman Abedi, 22, opened an account a year ago which lay empty until he used it to buy shrapnel for the bomb he used to slaughter 22 and injure dozens more on Monday.

To avoid suspicion, the bomber made at least two separate trips to B&Q and Screwfix in Manchester before heading to Libya in April, The Times reports.

On Thursday it was reported a bomb-making factory had been found inside Abedi's home in Fallowfield, South Manchester.

He is believed to have assembled the device at a city-centre flat rented on Airbnb on Monday before carrying out the atrocity.

On raiding the plush rental flat, cops discovered a huge stock of chemicals and bomb-making components.

The quantities have led to fears at least two other bombs similar to that used on Monday could have been built.

Family and friends paid tribute to their loved ones as the last of the victims was named yesterday, while and cops continued the hunt for other members of the terror cell.

It is believed Abedi may have been given a crucial component for his device at a German airport en route to his terror mission.

Abedi flew to the city from Libyan capital Tripoli - via Istanbul - four days before the atrocity in Manchester.

The explosive used in the bomb which killed 22 people in Manchester is the same as that used in the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, it has been revealed.

News that the explosive known as TATP was used to trigger Monday night's bombing attack at the Manchester Arena further heightens concerns that British-born suicide bomber Salman Abedi, 22, was acting as part of an international terror cell.

A further two people were yesterday taken in by Geater Manchester Police for questioning, bringing to 10 the number of people arrested over the attack.

It came after British Prime Minister Theresa May used a NATO gathering to blast US President Donald Trump over information leaks to US media, which President Trump conceded were "deeply troubling".

It was also revealed yesterday that Abedi flew via Dusseldorf airport in Germany and Istanbul and Ankara in Turkey when he returned from the Libyan capital in Tripoli to his home city of Manchester on May 18, four days before he targeted a pop concert by Ariana Grande, killing 22 people and injuring 119 more when he triggered a nail bomb hidden in a backpack.

Republican Congressman Mike McCaul, who chairs the US homeland security committee, said yesterday the bombmakers may have had foreign training due to the level of sophistication involved in its assembly.

He said the explosive used was TATP, or triacetone triperoxide, which was used in the July 7, 2005 attacks in London, in the Paris attacks on the Bataclan Theatre in November 2015 and the Brussels airport and metro bombings which killed 31 in March last year.

"We're not dealing with a lone wolf situation,'' Congressman McCaul said.

Authorities are investigating whether Abedi was linked to the so-called Man in the Hat, Mohamed Abrini, a Belgium extremist accused of masterminding the Paris and Belgium attacks, who visited Manchester for fundraising and took photographs of landmarks in 2015.

Youngest victim aged 8.
Youngest victim aged 8.

As Manchester continues to mourn the victims of Monday's night's appalling attack, Abedi's two brothers, Ismail, 23, and Hashem, 20, remained in police detention, along with their father Ramadan.

Ramadan and Hashem were detained in Libya on Wednesday while Ismail was arrested by police in south Manchester.

Eight people have now been detained in the UK and a further two in Libya, but other than the Abedi foursome, their identities are not known.

Officers also evacuated people from an area in Wigan, a town in Greater Manchester, as they searched a house in connection with their investigation.

Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins said searches would continue over the next few days.

"I want to reassure people that the arrests that we have made are significant, and initial searches of premises have revealed items that we believe are very important to the investigation,'' he said.

UK authorities have said they knew of Salman Abedi as a peripheral figure who was not considered high-risk, but it has since been revealed they failed to act on up to five tip-offs about him, and multiple international security figures have revealed they were aware of him.

The French have said he underwent terrorism training in Syria, and Scotland Yard has reportedly confirmed this to German authorities, saying he underwent paramilitary training in Syria.

The UK remains on its highest terror alert - critical - and police shut down Westminster Bridge in London on Thursday night after an abandoned car triggered a bomb scare.

Queen Elizabeth yesterday visited survivors in hospital in Manchester, while the nation came to a halt at 11am to observe a minute's silence for the victims.

All 22 of the dead have now been identified, ranging in age from eight years to 54 years.

Reflecting Grande's fan base, seventeen of the victims are female and five are male, while nine of the victims are teenagers and little girls aged 18 years or younger.

A sea of flowers, teddy-bears, balloons and posters has emerged around Manchester as police began to dismantle the road blocks, from Albert Square and St Ann's Square in the city to the edges of the arena and the Victoria Station, which remain closed.

President Trump, who at the NATO summit in Brussels vowed to continue to war against Islamic State, said leaks to US media about the Manchester suicide bombing would be investigated by the Justice Department and other agencies.

An irate May said the countries' partnership on defence and security was built on trust. But "part of that trust is knowing that intelligence can be shared confidently," she said.

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Meanwhile, Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher on Friday announced his solo debut with a concert in his native Manchester to support families affected by the deadly suicide attack at the city's arena.

The singer, infamous during the heyday of Oasis in the 1990s for his foul mouth and hard-living, said that Tuesday's show will raise money for a Red Cross-supported appeal following the blast that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert.

"I just knew I had to. I'm not in it for the money. The gig was going to happen anyway and we all have to do what we can," he told the Manchester Evening News.

"I want to try and help pick people up. People like me, doing what we do, it's our duty to give people a good time," he said.

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