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Suicide Bomber Targets Ariana Grande Concert in Manchester; President Trump: U.S. Stands in Solidarity with the People of the U.K.; Eyewitness Shares Experience. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 23, 2017 - 05:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, May 23rd, 5 o'clock here in New York City.

And we do have breaking news. A terror attack in England, at least 22 killed, dozens more injured, after police say a lone suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device just as an Ariana Grande concert let out in Manchester, England. The stadium holds 21,000. Many are still unaccounted for.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Witnesses describe a scene of utter chaos, one saying there were bodies scattered everywhere. (INAUDIBLE) had thousands of concertgoers, many of them children, running for their lives.

Reaction is pouring in from around the world, including remarks from President Trump.

So we have it all covered for you. Let's go first to CNN's Clarissa Ward. She is live in Manchester.

What's the latest, Clarissa?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Alisyn. Well, you may be able to see the arena in the background behind me. This is actually as close as we can get to the venue because there is still a large police cordon, at least a square mile, around the entire area.

The venue was actually sold out last night. And, as you know, Ariana Grande very popular pop star with the tween audience. That's why there were so many young people there and authorities are confirming that among those at least 22 dead there were children among them, according to people who attended the concert. The concert had just ended when chaos broke out.



What's going on?

Oh, my god. WARD (voice-over): A deadly explosion rocking Manchester Arena in England. The blast sending panicked concert goers, including many young fans of pop singer Ariana Grande, running for the exits and jumping over barricades.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just bodies scattered about everywhere. At least 20-30 people on the floor, some that you could see straight off were just, just dead.

WARD (voice-over): Police now investigating the incident as an act of terror, carried out by one male suicide bomber.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated, causing this atrocity.

WARD (voice-over): The attacker died at the scene after detonating the device in an area near the box office outside the arena at 10:33 pm as the concert ended.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was just a mad rush to get out because nobody knew what was happening.

WARD (voice-over): Parents screaming, frantically searching for their children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just mayhem on the streets. There was children crying, to get in contact with their parents. It was parents on their phones, who obviously were upset. They were crying, trying to get in contact with the kids. But it was just an awful, awful thing to witness.

WARD (voice-over): The attack leaving many traumatized, especially the children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's just petrified that whoever did this would come to the house or would go to her school. She's just -- she's devastated. For her to, at 10 years old, to witness something like that is just horrific.

WARD (voice-over): One mother in anguish, pleading for help finding her missing 15-year-old daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the most horrible feeling ever to know that your daughter's there, you can't find her, you don't know if she's dead or alive. And I don't know how people can do this to innocent children.

WARD (voice-over): The city left reeling from the tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A dark day, yes, but something that Manchester, in its own unique way, will make sure that we turn into a strength for us as a city by working together.

WARD: The focus now for authorities is to try to identify the suicide bomber. But, of course, also to try work out whether there was a larger network working with him. Because although he has been identified as a lone suicide bomber, the fact that he was wearing or that he was carrying bomb that he was able to build a bomb, indicates that he may have had some help, that there may be a large network out there -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and chances are we will get more information on that over the course of the next four hours, while we were on the air. Clarissa, please keep us updated.

Meanwhile, President Trump says the U.S. stands in solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom. He used strong words to condemn the attack during some remarks with the Palestinian president. (INAUDIBLE). CNN's Sara Murray is traveling with the president and has more live in Jerusalem.

What's the latest there, Sara?


The attack, of course, came amid President Trump's foreign trip. He was appearing today with Palestinian Authority President Abbas and that is where he took the opportunity to express his condolences for the victims of this attack as well as their families and offered sharp words for the attacker. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So many young, beautiful, innocent people, living and enjoying their lives, murdered by evil losers in life.

I won't call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that's a great name. I will call them from now on losers, because that is what they are, losers. And we'll have more of them. But they're losers. Just remember that.


MURRAY: Now the president condemned the wicked ideology that he says inspired terrorists and says that terrorism must be obliterated -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Sara.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Sara, appreciate it.

Let's bring down the latest on this breaking situation. Let's back Clarissa Ward and bring in CNN chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.

Thanks to you both.

Christiane, what is the reckoning on the ground?

This is probably the deadliest bombing they've had since 2005, right over 50 killed then. There are a lot of details already out about the types of shrapnel, the sound. There are a lot of forensics being done already.

What's the word?

[05:05:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're looking to see whether this was a network, whether there was anybody more than this man, who was carrying, according to the police, this IED. So that is definitely top of the agenda and that would be obvious really from many security and intelligence standpoints.

The British prime minister, who's sent condolences, is apparently going to speak publicly not too long from now. She's been hosting or rather chairing a COBRA meeting. That's their meeting where they have the relevant cabinet and all those involved in what needs to be done to try to talk about how to deal with this.

The home secretary, your Secretary of Homeland Security, Amber Rudd here has already given a recorded statement talking to the people, sending condolences but talking to the British people, saying remain alert but do not be alarmed.

Security and police forces are on the case, she said. They've been stepped up and certainly, in London, colleagues and those using the public transport and the underground trains noticed an uptick in the number of police that are being deployed today.

So we're waiting for all of that to happen. And this amidst the President of the United States, who made his comments in Bethlehem, alongside the Palestinian president, and said that it's interesting that his trip, where he's talking about confronting and trying to defeat this kind of terrorism, happens, as he put it, on this horrible morning of so much death in Britain.

So there's a huge amount of focus on this situation now.

CAMEROTA: Clarissa, look, all of these terror attacks are always sickening. I mean they just make you feel so disgusted when you look at the video that we're watching now, for the concert. But this was -- these are tweens. These are young teenagers and even children that would go to an Ariana Grande concert. There have been victims that are 10 years old here, 9 years old.

What is the political purpose for targeting and killing children?

WARD: Alisyn, I mean, frankly it's unconscionable. We've been seeing a few people who were eyewitnesses who were at the concert walking around with their little boys and girls, mostly girls, some of them about 8 years old.

What possible political reason could there ever be for deliberately targeting young children?

It's unfathomable to most of us. But I think what will be very much of concern to authorities right now is that while we have seen a proliferation of terror attacks across Europe, most of them have been of the kind of improvised lone Wolf style, whether it's been taking a truck or a car, trying to inflict as much mayhem, or the attack that we saw in Westminster a few months ago, where the attacker took his knife and then his car to try to kill as many people as possible.

But this involves an explosive, this involves a bomb. And usually where bombs are concerned, there is a higher level of expertise, there is more sophism. There is more funding or financing and is the potential always that there is a larger network.

So that is very much going to be the focus of authorities right now, to try to determine who this man was, who was supporting him and whether this is partly done in coordination with a terror group, potentially ISIS, or one group like that -- Alisyn.

CUOMO: All right, Clarissa, thank you very much.

Let's bring in right now CNN investigative reporter for international affairs, Michael Weiss.

There are a lot of clues popping up early on. That's always a good sign for investigators. You have your obvious intent, to scare in the norm of lifestyle. A concert is perfect for that. We saw in France how they were targeting the soccer match 2005. There's another coordinated principle here, which is being near the Metro. Obviously in 2005, you had a team there in the Metro itself.

But also the clues about the bomb, Michael.

What do you make of nuts and bolts as shrapnel, the loud, banging noise there, the fact that it was seemingly carried?

What does that mean to investigators?

MICHAEL WEISS, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Well, I think, as Clarissa was pointing out, this wasn't a guy with a knife or an AK-47 even, shooting up a bunch of people in a kind of amateurish manner.

This was somebody who knew how to construct an IED. It's not easy to do that, Chris. A lot of people, whether they're in Afghanistan or in Germany, trying to build one of these bombs, more often than not it blows up in your face.

So the success rate is low for constructing a device like this. Now that's not to say this can't have been somebody who just really studied manuals for these kinds of things on the Internet. The Tsarnaev brothers, for instance, the Boston Marathon, made a pressure cooker bomb by themselves. And there was no indication that they had any formal training.

But I would be very surprised if this was a lone wolf in the sort of classic sense. This might have been somebody who's not gone over to Syria and Iraq and I don't think this was a -- this was somebody acting alone. There was probably a network or other parties that were coordinated in this.

[05:10:00] CAMEROTA: Christiane, we heard President Trump's reaction while he is over in Jerusalem overseas. And he said I'm going to call these people losers because that's what they are. Has there been any more international response to his words or to this?

AMANPOUR: No, not really yet. This only just happened in the last hour. You know, one of the issues is trying to put in the minds of those who may be watching and may be inspired that these are not folk heroes. These are not just -- not folk heroes, which so many of them probably try to persuade their followers that they're doing absolutely the right thing.

And as Michael has been discussing, so much of this is an eye for an eye, so much of it is justified in their online and other outlets as response for what happens in Syria, what happens elsewhere. That's the depraved logic of so much of this.

It went back to 7/7 in 2005. Those said that what they did to the British there was in revenge for what the British were doing in the Iraq War.

And just note that it's just come up, the date of this attack, which was yesterday, May 22nd last night, is the anniversary of the fusilier. Do you remember the fourth anniversary of the attack on the young military fusilier who was killed in London by a knife attack. That was one of the first of the modern wave of post-ISIS attacks that we saw here in Britain.

And some of these attacks do happen to mark other violent anniversaries. So that's just one little link that we've just seen.

CUOMO: Michael, indication of specific threat because this is the U.K. once again something unique to the dynamic there?

WEISS: I was just in London for a week two weeks ago and the chatter was it's only matter of time. Recall after the Paris attacks, ISIS put out a video with a gun sight superimposed on then Prime Minister David Cameron's face. And the idea was Britain is next; Britain is -- they've made U.S. partner in the coalition war against our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria.

They hadn't managed to pull off a spectacular. There was that attack in Westminster with a vehicle several weeks ago but fortunately not that many people were injured or killed in that attack. That's not something ISIS will claim as a banner victory.

If this was an ISIS attack and they do claim credit for it and then it's proven by investigators, this is the kind of thing that they will say, you see, we're still a going concern. You may shrink our caliphate in the Middle East. But we still have the capability and the will and the wherewithal to kill scores of people.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much. We will obviously call upon you throughout the next hours as this all develops.

CUOMO: All right. We're going to take a break. We can now take you inside that concert in England -- that's obviously where this all began for all these young people, at an Ariana Grande concert. The apparent plan and the effects from just those -- most were just

yards away. We'll give it to you next.


[05:15:00] CUOMO: All right. We're staying on top of breaking news, 22 killed, dozens more injured in an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. Now those numbers are going to change. The venue holds 21,000; many are still unaccounted for. Police say some of the dead are children. Remember this was a kids' concert, Ariana Grande. And now you have so many recovering following this horrifying attack.

We have CNN's Erin McLaughlin live at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. Many of the victims were taken there. We're told eight local hospitals were hit up to address the need -- Erin.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Chris. And it was all hands on deck here at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. Just to give you a sense of the magnitude of this emergency, this hospital was critical care only in the overnight hours, closed to normal patients.

We spoke to one eyewitness, a 17-year-old. She was at the concert with a friend. Her grandfather had arrived at the arena to pick her up. That's when the explosion took off.

She described how she was watching Ariana Grande, saying how Ariana Grande had just left the stage when this massive explosion took place. She said her grandfather was injured in the head and administered to this hospital.

We also spoke to one woman, whose sister and mother were injured. They were there to pick up their nieces, injured by glass shrapnel. Now emergency responders were praised this morning by the police chief to the response of this. They've been preparing for this.

Such is the nature of terror in Europe but, at the same time, few could have expected this kind of attack on kids -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Erin, thank you very much for the update from there.

Joining us now is Sam Ward. He lives just feet away from the Manchester Arena.

Sam, thank you for being here.

So you were home, you live just down the street.

What did you hear?

SAM WARD, EYEWITNESS: Yes, just before it all started kicking off inside the in a way social media, there was a huge bang, it was really sharp. There was no echo to it. I definitely (INAUDIBLE) described it immediately as an explosion.

Shortly after that, five minutes, we started to see convoys of emergency vehicles from police, ambulance, rushing to the arena. And that's when we (INAUDIBLE) to social media to find out what was happening.

The apartment block that I live in directly faces the Manchester Central Fire Station. (INAUDIBLE) set up base very quickly (INAUDIBLE) one point (INAUDIBLE) 1:00 in the morning, I counted 36 ambulances, all parts of -- in a very, very neat line all waiting for the go-ahead. And as they did, they all proceeded to attend the arena in five or six deep very streamlined convoy.

[05:20:03] And a they left, five or six more vehicles were going to replenish them. It was a very, very well orchestrated (INAUDIBLE) emergency services.

CAMEROTA: That's very good to know. And we're watching the cell phone video that you took of that convoy of emergency vehicles responding in very quick fashion.

Did you see injured people?

SAM WARD: No, I didn't see any injured people. After the first sirens, we seen that the streets turned into bedlam. People were cutting red lights. There was traffic everywhere. Lots of families -- you can see the cars, five or six that were (INAUDIBLE). Everyone was trying to get out of the city center. The police did their utmost to direct the traffic and, thankfully, the roads were only mental (ph) for around 15 minutes. It seemed like we cleared the area extremely quickly.

CAMEROTA: Sam, officials tell us that terrorists hit targets that they know, that they're familiar with.

So what is this neighborhood where you live in Manchester like?

SAM WARD: The city center it's brilliant (INAUDIBLE). There's always a high police presence. Everyone gets on with their business. For a city center, the crime rate's relatively normal, I'd imagine. We have the city center's fire stations, all the police stations are based inside city center.

So it's very peaceful, especially at night time. And (INAUDIBLE) around (INAUDIBLE) it was clear something was wrong here.

CAMEROTA: But is terror a concern in your neighborhood?

We've heard that in the past there have been some raids.

SAM WARD: Yes. It's Manchester City center and I think terrorism would be on the top of everyone's mind in any city. We do see the usual stuff we do, have the drills in place and work (INAUDIBLE) hot spots within the city center where we should and shouldn't go and where it's most likely to be at (INAUDIBLE).

But this is always (INAUDIBLE) at the back of your mind (INAUDIBLE) never expect it to have been on your doorstep.

CAMEROTA: Understood. Sam, thank you for sharing your cell phone video and what you saw with us. We appreciate it.

SAM WARD: Thank you very much.


CUOMO: All right. So British police are treating this Manchester Arena bombing as an acts of terrorism.

Why that venue?

Why now?

Why this way?

There are unique clues and contexts. We have former assistant secretary of state, Jamie Rubin. He knows the situation well -- when NEW DAY continues.


[05:25:00] CAMEROTA: We are covering breaking news, 22 people confirmed dead. Dozens more injured in this explosion, following an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. Police are treating the blast as a terrorist incident. They believe the attacker was a suicide bomber who acted alone and died at the scene.

Investigators say he was carrying an IED, an improvised explosive device, there has been no claim of responsibility yet. So let's go to CNN's Clarissa Ward. She's live in Manchester with the latest in the investigation.

What do we know at this hour, Clarissa?

WARD: Hi, Alisyn, you can probably see the arena in the distance behind me and that's because this is as close as we can get. Police have cordoned off the entire area around the venue.

And the venue, I should add to our viewers, was actually sold out because Ariana Grande, the pop star who was performing, is so popular and particularly popular, Alisyn, with a very young audience, the tween audience. We have seen a lot of children and parents wandering around here, people just shell-shocked at what they witnessed last night.

So here's exactly what we know happened. It took place, the attack, just as the concert was ending, as Ariana Grande was leaving the stage. Eyewitnesses reported hearing something like the sound of balloons popping or a loud blast.

The explosion took place in the lobby area, toward the entrance of the venue in the sort of place where people would go and buy merchandise, T-shirts at the end of the concert. Of course a lot of people moving through the area as they were exiting the stadium.

And there were just scenes of panic, according to people that we have spoken to, absolute blind terror, people running frantically, not knowing how to get out.

And while we have heard it is believed the explosion was the it work of a lone male suicide bomber, authorities are very much focused on trying to work out who this man was and who may have helped him to build these explosives and carry out this horrific attack -- Chris.

CUOMO: It wasn't a knife, it wasn't a gun. It was an IED and that usually requires some type of training. Clarissa, thank you very much. Stay in the loop with us

Joining us now to discuss this morning's breaking news is former U.S. assistant secretary of state, Jamie Rubin. He's joining us from London.

Jamie, thank you very much for joining us under these terrible circumstances. The target seems fairly obvious. Even this rough plan seems fairly obvious. Police are saying that while not inside the Manchester Arena, this attacker positioned the themselves inside an enclosed connecting space that led from the concert hall to Victoria Station, the big Metro, the big subway there.

That seems like the right place to be for someone who wants to kill people in this way.

JAMIE RUBIN, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think that's right, although obviously I don't have any special knowledge here, just from what we've heard so far, that location, the way it was done, the fact that it was an explosion of significance suggests that this was a very well planned idea.

Whether that's because it's a larger group or not, it's hard to say.