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Victoria Station Reopens a Week after Manchester Attack | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Armed police patrol near Britain’s Victoria Station in Manchester. (AFP)

The train station next to the concert venue that was the scene of last week’s suicide bombing in the British city of Manchester reopened on Tuesday, the first time since the attack that left 22 people dead.

A flood of tributes had poured in over the victims of the bombing that struck Britain’s third-largest city.

“We Will Remember You”, read signs accompanied by heart images and surrounded by floral tributes at Manchester Victoria station as service resumed.

“Tragically taken away. But never to be forgotten,” read a note left by transport minister Chris Grayling at a morning ceremony, while Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham wrote: “We will always stand with you”.

“I think it will take a long time to get back to normal. There’s still a weird feeling, you know, armed police, a lot of unease,” said 59-year-old David Keys as he got off a train.

Sharon Glyn, 48, said she felt “goosebumps” as her train pulled into the station, while 29-year-old Andrew Shivas said: “Can’t let them win”.

Manchester-born Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher was to make his solo debut later on Tuesday with a charity concert, the latest in a flood of tributes in for the victims of last Monday’s concert attack.

The city has seen several inter-faith vigils and shows of defiance in recent days, as well as calls for calm following a sharp rise in hate crimes.

Gallagher said proceeds from his show would go to a Red Cross-supported appeal after the blast that has already raised millions of pounds.

“I want to try and help pick people up,” Gallagher, 44, told The Manchester Evening News.

Manchester Victoria station is connected to the Manchester Arena, one of Europe’s biggest indoor venues, by a covered space that was the scene of Monday’s blast, in which 116 people were also injured.

Most of the victims were young people attending a concert by US pop idol Ariana Grande, which had just finished, and parents waiting to meet their children.

The ISIS terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The bomber has been identified as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, a Manchester-born university dropout of Libyan origin who reportedly fought in the Libyan conflict to topple former dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Abedi’s brother, Hashem, and father, Ramadan, have been arrested in Libya, where authorities say the two brothers were both ISIS terrorists.

Fourteen more people are being held in Britain and police have released a security camera image of Abedi carrying a large blue suitcase, appealing for any information about where Abedi might have been with the luggage.

Fifty patients are still being treated in hospital for injuries sustained in the attack, including 17 who are in critical care, the health authority for England said on Tuesday.

The health authority, NHS England, said being in critical care was not the same as being critically ill. It provided no further explanation, but doctors and hospital officials said last week that some patients had suffered life-changing injuries to major organs and to limbs.

Britain’s terror threat level was raised to maximum in the wake of the attack but lowered again over the weekend, while armed soldiers who had been deployed to assist police patrols were being pulled back.

Police say they have uncovered a “large part” of the network behind the attack but questions have intensified over apparent intelligence failures in identifying Abedi as a potential terror threat.

Prime Minister Theresa May has also come under heavy criticism for drastic cuts in police numbers during her time as interior minister, as campaigning has resumed ahead of a general election next week.

May has said that while overall numbers of officers have gone down, budgets for counter-terrorism policing have risen.