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Manchester Police Hunt For Answers In Concert Attack

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

As we've been hearing this morning, last night, a terror attack was carried out in the northern English city of Manchester. At least 22 people were killed, including the attacker who died. And more than 50 people were injured after this suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device at a pop concert at the Manchester Arena.

Vikram Dodd covers counterterrorism for The Guardian newspaper, and he's on the line from London. Hi, Vikram.

VIKRAM DODD: Good morning, David.

GREENE: Do we know yet who's responsible for this?

DODD: We're not sure. We have a claim of responsibility from Islamic State saying one of their soldiers carried it out. They have claimed things before which people haven't been too convinced they were responsible for, but there's also another issue is whether it was a directed attack, i.e. they were in contact with the person saying do this this way, and here's some of the know-how to carry it out, or whether it was inspired, i.e. somebody who consumed a lot of their online hateful propaganda and then went and did this.

In terms of the actual attacker, again, details are still emerging. But one of your - one of the American networks is reporting a name. We haven't and others here haven't confirmed that. It just seems to be one attacker so far. And the hunt now, the big investing question is, was he part of a network? Did he have support? Where did he get the technology, the know-how to make the chemicals to make the thing go bang, construct the device?

GREENE: Well, and speaking of all of that, I mean, the Manchester Police have made at least one arrest, it sounds like, in connection with all this. Do we know who they're targeting?

DODD: Well, each investigation is different. We do not know. It would not be clear at this stage this jurisdiction whether there is something really there or whether they're doing something by running his phone and picking people up who they get a hit for, say, on the phone in maybe in a very large database of names of extremists and people they've had dealings with in the past in the terrorism or extremist context.

There was a operation a few weeks ago where they picked up about 10 or 11 people and let them all go. There was an operation where they picked up several people and all of them got charged. So it's, you know, this is very early stages for a very fast-moving complex multi-stranded investigation which has, you know, competing number one priorities from, oh, we're about to get - are we in the U.K. about to get hit again to are there accomplices, are there other people out there?

GREENE: It's so interesting. That sounds like a very important point. When we see arrests and don't have many details, we can't jump to the conclusion that these are people who might have actually been involved in this. It could be people they're picking up based on what they learned from from a phone or something like that.

DODD: Well, absolutely, I think that's a really vital point. I mean, it's one that, you know, journalists find it difficult to sort of recall that. And I don't blame them. And I've probably done it myself. But, you know, the recent experience here, I think it was the Westminster attack, first one, 10 people were arrested. All of them got released. And then another operation a couple of weeks later, more people got charged there.

GREENE: OK. We've been speaking to Vikram Dodd. He covers counterterrorism for The Guardian newspaper in London, speaking about that attack last night in Manchester that killed at least 22 people, injured 50 others. We're reporting on this throughout the day. Vikram, thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.

DODD: No problem. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.