The Bishop of St Edmundsbury has condemned last night’s blast at the Manchester Arena, which killed 22 and injured 59, as ‘an evil act’.
A lone suicide bomber set off a bomb loaded with nuts and bolts in the foyer of the arena at about 10.35pm as the audience, including children, were leaving after a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande.
Some of the mostly teenage audience are still unaccounted for.
The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, which includes almost all of Suffolk, said: “This has been an appalling and evil act. My heartfelt prayers and sympathy are for the victims, the families who have lost loved ones, and those parents, partners and friends who are desperately waiting for news.
“This is an attack on innocent people, seemingly targeting children, and we once again stand together, holding on to the good that unites us in the face of those who try to use violence and fear to divide us.
“Our Suffolk churches are open for those who want a peaceful place to reflect and pray and I am asking the people of Suffolk to hold the people of Manchester in their prayers.
“As always our emergency services have shown great bravery and heroism. I would like to pay tribute to their bravery and dedication, and to all who have selflessly helped the victims.
The Very Rev Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, said: “Here at St Edmundsbury Cathedral we are praying for the city of Manchester following the atrocity at the Arena.
“We are praying for those who are missing, that they may be found safe; those who are injured, that they may come through; for the families, schools, colleges and communities that are facing the horror of loss and pain.
“We pray that those who perpetrate terror may know that they will never succeed in dividing communities; that their evil actions will never win against the power of love and forgiveness.”
Former King Edward VI head Geoff Barton, writing on the Times Educational Supplement website, urged heads to help students discuss the impact the attack has had on them.
Now general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, he wrote ‘the unpredictable can puncture the routines of school life’.
“I learned early on in headship that when the world outside appears to have fallen apart, you make sure the world inside remains reassuringly familiar.
“But I also know that what school leaders will have done is to legitimise discussion about the events of last night.
“In English or history lessons, in tutor time and science, teachers will have allowed students to express their horror, their bewilderment.
“They’ll have asked students to pause, and perhaps bow their heads in solidarity with the victims.”
RAF Lakenheath has warned US personnel to be vigilant following the attack.
An article on the USAF base’s website says: “Given current events, exercising vigilance is better sooner than later and may alleviate your chances of being directly involved in a bad situation.
“In addition, don’t stand out in your appearance or manner of dress, and never display large amounts of cash when making a purchase.
“Attending large events can be tricky, so use alternate exits and avoid main pedestrian corridors before and after an event if possible.”
It urges personnel to share travel plans and make sure they have military and consular emergency numbers.
West Suffolk Interfaith and Community Forum said on Thursday afternoon: “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives or were injured in Monday night’s terrorist murders at the Manchester Arena, as they are with their families, all others affected and those professionals and volunteers who responded so readily and continue to do so.
“We from the West Suffolk Interfaith and Community Forum deplore and condemn this wanton, brutal and cowardly taking of the lives of people young and old.
“We are firm in our conviction that whatever happens we must stand together to oppose terrorism and the ideologies that promote it.
“We urge everyone to continue to support and strengthen those things that bind us together in our society, to ensure that the communities where we live and work are positive and harmonious places where all children and young people can grow up safely and without fear.”
Anyone with concerns over missing relatives can call 0161 856 9400 or 0161 856 9900 for help.