British Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday the country's terror threat level was rising from severe to critical

By Chris Harris
May 23, 2017 05:38 PM

Insisting another attack was not only likely but possibly imminent following a deadly bombing in Manchester, British Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday that the country’s terror threat level was rising from “severe” to “critical.”

May made the solemn announcement live on British television as she also cautioned against unnecessary alarm.

The move came less than 24 hours after a suicide bombing outside Manchester Arena at the end of an Ariana Grande performance killed 22 people and hospitalized 59 others, including multiple children and teenagers.

“I do not want to unduly alarm the members of the public,” May said from Downing Street. “This morning, I said that the joint terrorism analysis center — the independent organization responsible for setting the threat level on the basis of the intelligence available — was keeping the threat level under constant review.”

“It has now concluded, on the basis of today’s investigations, that the threat level should be increased for the time being from severe to critical,” May said.

According to the prime minister, the rise in the threat level signifies that an attack is not only “highly likely but that a further attack may be imminent.”

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People lay tributes at a vigil on May 23, 2017, for the people who lost their lives during an apparent terror attack in Manchester, England.

May said it is likely the bomber behind Monday’s fatal attack worked in concert with others.

“It is a possibility that we cannot ignore that there is a wider group of individuals linked to this attack,” she explained, adding that soldiers will be deployed to help local police protect city streets nationwide.

“The terrorists will never win and we will prevail,” May said.

On Tuesday, U.K. authorities identified the bombing suspect as 22-year-old Salman Abedi. Investigators said they were still working to determine whether he acted alone or in conjunction with a larger network.

Police believe Abedi detonated an improvised explosive device at about 10:33 p.m. local time near the ticket office outside the arena within minutes of Grande’s final number.

The scene near Manchester Arena in the U.K. following a deadly explosion there on Monday night.
| Credit: Joel Goodman/LNP/REX/Shutterstock

Police said they have arrested a 23-year-old man in connection with the attack and have carried out local warrants as part of their investigation.

According to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant communication, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

Grande took to social media late Monday to share her devastation in the wake of the explosion. “Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry,” she wrote on Twitter. “I don’t have words.”

So far, only three of the dead have been identified, including an 8-year-old girl.