Manchester bombing echoes Isis attack on Bataclan and of ‘youth being targeted’

Mayors of Paris and Nice among first to express sympathy

People standing outside the Olympia concert venue in Paris, a few hours before   90 people were gunned down  18 months ago. The Bataclan and Manchester attacks both targeted concerts by US performers in Europe: the Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan, Ariana Grande in Manchester. Photograph: Joel Saget/Getty Images

People standing outside the Olympia concert venue in Paris, a few hours before 90 people were gunned down 18 months ago. The Bataclan and Manchester attacks both targeted concerts by US performers in Europe: the Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan, Ariana Grande in Manchester. Photograph: Joel Saget/Getty Images

 

Georges Salines, the president of the “November 13th 2015 – Fraternity and Truth” association, was attending a play in memory of the victims of the Bataclan attack when a jihadist detonated  a bomb, killing himself and 22 other people in the Manchester Arena on Monday night.

Salines’s 29 year-old daughter Lola was one of 90 people gunned down by jihadists at the Bataclan concert hall during a two-hour siege 18 months ago. Another 40 people were killed in near simultaneous attacks on cafe terraces and at the Stade de France.

Islamic State, also known as Isis, claimed responsibility for both the Paris and Manchester attacks, though its claim for the latter had not been verified on Tuesday afternoon.

“Each of these events has a particular resonance for us,” Salines told France Info radio. “When the police give an emergency number for people who are searching for their loved ones, it takes me back immediately to the night of November 13th, when I must have called the emergency number hundreds of times before I got through . . .”

The mayors of Paris and Nice, where the two worst attacks in France occurred, were among the first to express sympathy for Manchester. “It reminds us of the Bataclan and of youth being targeted,” said Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo. She ordered that the Eiffel Tower be blacked out on Tuesday night in a sign of mourning.

Prime minister Edouard Philippe also made a parallel between the Bataclan and Manchester. “The most cowardly terrorism has struck again, attacking a concert, as in Paris more than a year ago, wilfully targeting very young people gathered in a moment of celebration and joy,” Philippe said in a statement.

Islamic State has repeatedly focused on festive gatherings of young people and families. On June 12th, 2016, an American of Afghan origin killed 49 people in a gay night club in Orlando, Florida. On July 14th, 2016, a Tunisian lorry driver killed 86 people, many of them children, by running them down on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. Last December, another lorry crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12.

US performers

The Bataclan and Manchester attacks both targeted concerts by US performers in Europe: the Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan, Ariana Grande in Manchester.

Grande had scheduled her next concert to take place at the AccorHotels Arena in Bercy, Paris, on June 7th. On Tuesday Grande suspended her world tour indefinitely, according to reports in the US.

The Bataclan audience were mostly in their 30s, while those in Manchester were teenagers. The modus operandi was also different. Though the three attackers in Paris wore suicide belts, they shot their victims dead in the course of a two-hour siege. Only one of the three jihadists died by detonating his belt; the others were shot dead by anti-terrorist police.

All 10 of the mostly Belgian and French jihadists involved in the Paris attacks were equipped with suicide belts which had been assembled in a rented hotel room outside Paris. They were made from Triacetone Triperoxide or TATP, the highly volatile homemade explosive most used by terrorists.

The Paris attackers had so badly constructed their explosives belts that only one of the 130 civilians killed that night died in a bombing, outside the Stade de France. Brahim Abdeslam, the brother of Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving terrorist, blew himself up in a Paris cafe but claimed no other victims.

Within four months, the same network had perfected their technique to the point where they were able to kill 32 people in three bombings in Brussels.

The Manchester bomber also detonated a lethally constructed device. Experts say this indicates he was probably part of a network and was likely to have had other accomplices, possibly still at large. British police said on Tuesday they had arrested a 23-year-old in connection with the bombing.

Doubtless the most similar attack to Manchester occurred in Tel Aviv on June 1st, 2001. As recounted in Rowan Somerville’s new book Beat: The True Story of a Suicide Bomb and a Heart, published by Lilliput in Dublin, a Palestinian affiliated with Hamas detonated his bomb in the queue outside the Dolphinarium discotheque in Tel Aviv.

He killed 21 Israelis, most of them teenage girls whose families had recently immigrated from the former Soviet Union.