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Manchester bombing: Trump says attackers must be 'obliterated'

US president links attack to speech calling for Muslim nations to 'drive out extremists' as world leaders condemn bombing targeting pop concert
Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump said that Monday night's deadly suicide bombing in the British city of Manchester highlighted the need to "drive out" Islamist violence as world leaders condemned the attack.

Authorities in the UK have not yet identitied who carried out the bombing, which killed 22 people including several children as they were leaving a pop concert at the Manchester Arena, nor has any organisation claimed responsibility.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday that the suspected attacker was known to police and security services and appeared to have carried out the attack alone, but that authorities were not yet ready to identify the perpetrator.

"It is now beyond doubt that the people of Manchester and of this country have fallen victim to a callous terrorist attack, an attack that targeted some of the youngest people in our society with cold calculation," said May.

Trump, speaking in Bethlehem following talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said that the attack illustrated the need to tackle Islamist extremism - a theme he talked about in a speech in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Expressing condolences to those injured and the families of those killed, Trump said the attack had been carried out by "evil losers".

“This is what I’ve spent these last few days talking about during my trip overseas. Our society can have no tolerance for this continuation of bloodshed," said Trump.

“The terrorists and extremists and those who give them aid and comfort must be driven out from our society forever. This wicked ideology must be obliterated, and I mean, completely obliterated, and the innocent life must be protected. All innocent lives. Life must be protected.”

Addressing Arab leaders in Riyadh on Sunday, Trump singled out the Islamic State (IS) group, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas as perpetrators of terrorism and said: "A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out. Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land, and drive them out of this earth."

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The attack in Manchester was also condemned on Tuesday by Iran, which was singled out by Trump on Sunday as the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism.

In a statement, a foreign ministry spokesman appeared to criticise western security cooperation with Gulf states including Saudi Arabia.

"Terrorism will be uprooted only by taking comprehensive measures, and avoiding double standards," Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

"Artificial alliances would not stop the expansion of cancerous terrorism in the world."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government "strongly condemns the terrible terror attack.

"Terror is a global threat and the enlightened countries must act together to defeat it in any place," he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's main spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said that Turkey and the UK "would continue their joint and resolute fight against terrorism in all of its forms".

In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced "sorrow and horror", adding: "This suspected terrorist attack will only strengthen the efforts of the British people in Britain: Germany stands by your side. "

Future security cooperation is considered a key issue in the Brexit process as the UK negotiates its withdrawal from the European Union.

Europe has been shaken by a string of attacks claimed by or seemingly inspired by IS, which has called for attacks against western nations in retaliation for air strikes by the US-led coalition that is bombing its territory in Syria and Iraq.

In March, IS claimed responsibility for a car-ramming and stabbing attack at the Houses of Parliament in which six people including the attacker were killed and dozens more injured, although police said there was no evidence of any association between the attacker and IS or al-Qaeda.   

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country has suffered multiple IS-claimed attacks including a November 2015 attack by gunmen on a concert at Paris's Bataclan theatre, voiced "horror and shock", while Prime Minister Edouard Philippe described the attack as example of "the most cowardly terrorism" that had "specifically and knowingly" targeted young people. Several children were among those killed.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said: "I condemn the Manchester attack. My condolences to the families of the deceased and my fervent wishes that the wounded recover soon."

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni tweeted: "Italy joins forces with the British people and government, our thoughts go out to the victims of the Manchester attack and their families."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was ready to boost security cooperation with the UK, describing the bombing as a "cynical, inhuman crime".

"We expect that these will not escape the punishment they deserve," he said.

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