London: UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday described as "callous" the terror attack at a concert venue in Manchester which claimed 22 lives and said the attacker aimed to cause "maximum carnage" in the explosion.
In a statement in Downing Street, May said it was "now beyond doubt that the people of Manchester and of this country have fallen victim to a callous terrorist attack" that targeted "defenceless young people".
The Prime Minister said the attack, which also left at least 59 people injured, was the result of "cold calculation".
She said the suicide bomber deliberately chose the place where he could cause "maximum carnage" when he detonated a bomb at a pop concert in Manchester.
She added: "We struggle to understand the warped and twisted mind that sees a room of young people as an opportunity for carnage".
The British Prime Minister made her statement at the steps of Downing Street in London soon after she chaired a meeting of senior ministers and intelligence officials at an emergency response meeting of the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBRA).
Describing the attack at Manchester Arena in the heart of the city as an act of "sickening cowardice", she confirmed that the identity of the attacker is now known to the police but will not be released while investigations are ongoing.
"We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack," she said, adding that the terror threat level in the UK will remain at "severe" which means an attack is highly likely but officials will now consider whether it should be raised to "critical" the highest level possible.
"It is now beyond doubt that the people of Manchester and of this country have fallen victim to a callous terrorist attack. It is the worst attack Manchester has suffered, and the worst to hit the north of England," May said. May will be travelling to Manchester today to be briefed by the city's mayor, Andy Burnham, and security services in the city.
Her statement came as reports emerged of an emergency evacuation of a shopping centre near the site of last night's explosion at the Ariana Grande concert.
The Arndale Shopping Centre, the site of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombing from June 1996, was soon cleared for reopening to shoppers.