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Wed 24 May 2017 11:04 AM

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UAE, Saudi issue warning to citizens after UK raises terror threat level

Embassies urge citizens to be cautious and avoid public gather

UAE, Saudi issue warning to citizens after UK raises terror threat level
Messages and floral tributes are seen in Albert Square in Manchester, northwest England. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

The UAE and Saudi embassies have urged their citizens to be vigilant after UK raised its terror threat level to “critical” a day after a terror attack killed 22 people and injured 57 at pop concert in Manchester.

Britain prepared to deploy soldiers at key sites on Wednesday, having raised its terror threat level to maximum after a suicide bomber massacred 22 people at a pop concert in Manchester.

Addressing the nation from her Downing Street office, Prime Minister Theresa May warned late Tuesday that a new attack "may be imminent" and there was a possibility of "a wider group of individuals linked to this attack".

May said the threat level was being raised from severe to critical on the recommendation of the intelligence services and she was activating a plan for armed military personnel to assist police.

Her dramatic statement came after 22-year-old Salman Abedi, a Briton of Libyan descent, was identified as the perpetrator behind Monday's deadly attack at a concert by teen idol Ariana Grande.

UAE Ambassador to the United Kingdom Sulaiman Hamed Al Mazrouei, in a statement, said all Emirati citizens in Manchester were safe and secure, but called upon them to immediately contact the embassy for any emergency services.

He added that a team from the embassy and its attaché offices were following up the developments to ensure that all the UAE’s nationals are safe.

Separately, the Saudi Embassy in Britain also called on its citizens in the UK and Northern Ireland to exercise caution and avoid gatherings in public places.

The embassy also advised citizens to follow up the security situation issued by the local police and authorities, urging citizens to call on its emergency contact numbers if necessary, according to Saudi Press Agency.

Police said soldiers would initially be on guard duties at fixed points and could also be sent to patrol transport hubs, concerts and sports events.

The plan, which has never before been used and is codenamed Operation Temperer, was first revealed after the November 2015 Paris terror attacks and is believed to allow up to 5,000 troops to be deployed.

Manchester defiant

In Manchester's city centre, thousands gathered for a multi-faith vigil outside the Town Hall to remember the victims, with defiant chants of "Manchester! Manchester!" ringing around.

Poet Tony Walsh recalled the city's history in a poem entitled "This Is The Place", which drew huge cheers as he recounted the gritty attitude that made the city a heartland of industrial and cultural creativity.

In a poignant moment he referred to the "Mancunian way to survive" and said: "In the face of a challenge we always stand tall."

The attack was the deadliest in Britain since July 7, 2005 when four suicide bombers inspired by Al-Qaeda attacked London's transport system during rush hour, killing 52 people and wounding 700 more.

It revived memories of the November 2015 attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in which armed men wearing explosive belts stormed in and killed 90 people.

That attack was also claimed by ISIL, as was one in March by a knifeman at the gates of the British parliament - although police downplayed that claim.

Queen Elizabeth II condemned the Manchester attack as an "act of barbarity" and observed a minute's silence at a Buckingham Palace garden reception.

In a city famed globally for its football teams and pop bands like Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Smiths and Take That, showbusiness stars and teams expressed their horror at the carnage.

"Words don't really do justice for how we all feel. We're numb," Manchester United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said, ahead of Wednesday's Europa League final against Amsterdam giants Ajax.

The players will wear black armbands for the game in Stockholm and a minute's silence will be held.

* With AFP