Bano Ali: “There were people bleeding and screaming.”
by REENA KUMAR
THE mother of a teenager who was caught up in the deadliest terror attack in Britain in a decade, which claimed 22 lives in Manchester, has spoken about the panic stricken moments before she was reunited with her daughter.
What was supposed to be a special birthday gift for Bano Ali’s 14-year-old daughter Zaynah Sheikh soon turned into a nightmare on Monday night (22), when she had front row tickets to see her idol Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena.
Sheikh and her 20-year-old cousin Romessa Noor were leaving the crowded concert hall just as the gig ended when the bomb exploded, triggering a stampede, with terrified concert goers attempting to pour out of the arena.
Ali drove to pick up her daughter and niece but was forced to abandon her car and walk towards the venue after the city centre was cordoned off.
There were people bleeding and screaming; there was a rush to get out and no-one really knew what was going on.
She told Eastern Eye: “The concert was finished and they heard a loud bang behind them. Security told them to be calm, they said the speakers had blown. The next thing you know, everyone’s rushing towards them.
“There were people bleeding and screaming; there was a rush to get out and no-one really knew what was going on.”
“I couldn’t make any contact with them. There was very little information other than the fact that there had been an explosion and people were hurt.
“It was very scary for a short while. I abandoned my car and walked towards the arena to try and find them. I’d given them a meeting point when I dropped them off and they were there helping some of the people who had been hurt.
“There were people with blankets around them, bleeding, waiting to be seen by paramedics. There was an armed police presence; they were very, very frightened.
“She was devastated; she’s never seen anything like this and for her to be in the middle of it was really frightening.”
Ali added that her young daughter couldn’t make sense of what had happened and appeared confused after the horrific explosion.
“She was very shocked and kept saying she had to go home because she had a lot to do and she was going to be late for school. She’s tearful, she knows as do we it very easily could have been her. When we got home and found it was a bomb and people had died, we felt it could have well been us that day (to have lost our lives).
“She could have chosen to go out of another exit and it would have been a very different story, and that’s very frightening, I don’t want to send her anywhere where there are crowds now.
“Her school emailed her in the morning to see how she was and to offer support; everybody’s really sad today.”
Desperate parents and friends used social media to search for loved ones who attended Monday’s concert, while the wounded were being treated at six hospitals across Manchester in the early hours of Tuesday (23) morning.
Prime minister Theresa May described the attack as a sickening act targeting children and young people.
Eight-year-old schoolgirl Saffie Rose Roussos was the youngest known victim to have been killed in the attack, which injured 59 people.
On Tuesday, police said the suicide bombing had been carried out by 22-year-old Salman Abedi.
He had recently returned from Libya, home secretary Amber Rudd said, and her French counterpart said he had links with Islamic State and had probably visited Syria too.
Rudd added Abedi had likely not acted alone, and troops were being deployed to key sites across Britain to help prevent further attacks after the official threat level was raised to “critical”.
Police made three new arrests in South Manchester on Wednesday in connection with the concert bombing. They provided no details on the individuals held.