27 May 2017

Ariana Grande plans benefit gig in Manchester

10:07 am on 27 May 2017

US pop star Ariana Grande is to return to Manchester to play a benefit gig for the victims of the attack at her concert on Monday.

This file photo taken on August 28, 2016 shows US singer Ariana Grande performing during the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Photo: AFP

The American star said her "heart, prayers and deepest condolences" were with the victims of the Manchester attack.

"I don't want to go the rest of the year without being able to see and hold and uplift my fans," the singer added.

Twenty-two people were killed in the explosion at the Manchester Arena.

The singer tweeted: "There is nothing I or anyone can do to take away the pain you are feeling or to make this better.

"However I extend my hand and heart and everything I possibly can give to you and yours, should you want or need help in any way."

The star said: "I'll be returning to the incredibly brave city of Manchester to spend time with my fans and to have a benefit concert in honour and raise money for the victims and their families."

She continued: "Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before."

The singer said she wanted the current tour to be "a safe space" for her fans to "express themselves".

"This will not change that," she added.

"We will continue in honour of the ones we lost, their loved ones, my fans and all affected by this tragedy.

"They will be on my mind and in my heart everyday and I will think of them with everything I do for the rest of my life."

The star said she would reveal further details once the gig had been confirmed.

People gather in Trafalgar Square in London to pay tribute to the victims of the attack.

People gather in Trafalgar Square in London to pay tribute to the victims of the attack. Photo: AFP

Police make 'immense' progress on attacks

Police have made "significant arrests and finds" in their inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing, according to the UK's top counter-terrorism officer.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said they had "got hold of a large part" of the terror network they believe bomber Salman Abedi was part of.

"Immense" progress has been made, he added, but more arrests were likely.

Amid increased security at UK events this weekend, Mr Rowley urged the public to "go out as planned and enjoy yourselves".

He added that police had reviewed security at more than 1300 events across the country, and people could be "100 percent confident" they were doing everything possible to protect them.

But for the investigation team, he said, there were still "important" lines of inquiry to pursue, and the security level will not yet be reduced from "critical".

A senior security source told the BBC the threat level was "critical" partly because of concern at so-called "copy-cat" attacks, as well as fears about the Manchester network.

The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Ian Hopkins, said 12 locations were still being searched. These operations, as well as one at Manchester Arena, will continue over the weekend.

He said thousands of items had been gathered by officers, though he would not say whether they could have been used to make explosive devices.

Mr Hopkins also warned that hate crime had risen in Manchester since the attack, going from 28 reports on Monday to 56 on Wednesday.

He said the numbers cannot be directly linked to the attack.

But he added: "Manchester has come together this week... but it is important we continue to stand together, particularly against some of the hate-filled views that we have seen from a very small minority of the community that have no place here in Greater Manchester.

"I have sent a personal message to the faith leaders and places of worship across Greater Manchester today, thanked them for their support, and shown that we will not tolerate hate crime here in Manchester."

manchester investigate

manchester investigate Photo: AFP

Nine men - aged between 18 and 44 - are in custody on suspicion of terror offences, in connection with Monday's attack.

A total of 11 people have been arrested in the UK, including Abedi's 24-year-old brother Ismail, but two were later released.

The most recent arrest, of a man aged 44, was made on Friday in the Rusholme area of Manchester.

Witnesses said armed police had surrounded a bus on Oxford Road before they arrested a man on board.

The 22nd victim of the attack has been named as 15-year-old Megan Hurley, from Halewood in Merseyside.

A total of 66 people remain in hospital, with 23 in critical care.

- BBC

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