MANCHESTER, England (CNN) – The UK raised its terrorism threat level to “critical” — the highest level — for the first time in a decade Tuesday. Prime Minister Theresa May warned that intelligence services believe an attack may be “imminent.”
Hours earlier, police identified 22-year-old Salman Abedi as the suspected suicide attacker who detonated a bomb as throngs of teenagers poured out of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, killing 22 people.
The suspect apparently acted as a lone attacker and died in the blast Monday night, police said, which left the wounded and the dead scattered across the arena’s bloodied entrance and sent screaming girls running for cover.
But May warned that investigators could not discount the possible involvement of a “wider group” of terrorists.
The raising of the terror threat level means “not only that another attack remains highly likely but that a further attack may be imminent,” she said. It will enable the government to deploy armed military personnel of support of police and other security forces, particularly in the guarding of key sites, concerts and sporting events, May said.
“I do not want the public to feel unduly alarmed,” she said, calling the response “proportionate and sensible” to the threat level.
Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins named the suspect Tuesday but said that the man’s identity had not been yet confirmed by a coroner.
The blast marked the deadliest terror attack on British soil since the 2005 London bombings. Hundreds of residents remembered the newest victims during a Tuesday evening vigil.
A powerful explosion shook part of the cavernous Manchester Arena late Monday as concert goers streamed out following the American pop star’s last song.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack but offered no evidence.
An 8-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman have been named as the first victims of the attack, which has drawn condemnation and horror from around the world as a heinous assault targeting children.