Manchester concert suicide attack prompts security rethinks worldwide

Tokyo, May 23, 2017 — Countries from the United States to Japan and Singapore are considering tightening security ahead of major theater and sports events following a suicide bomb attack in Britain that killed at least 22 people.

Prime Minister Theresa May called an emergency meeting with intelligence chiefs on the deadliest militant assault in the country since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London’s transport system in July 2005.

The sun rises as police stand guard outside the Manchester Arena in Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Yates

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it was closely monitoring Monday’s attack, at the end of a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in Manchester, and that the U.S. public may experience increased security at public events.

Sports events organizers were also looking into security. European soccer body UEFA said there was “no specific intelligence” to suggest that Wednesday’s Europa League final in Stockholm between Manchester United and Dutch side Ajax Amsterdam might be the target of any attack.

UFEA said that “a number of additional security measures were implemented” after a truck attack in central Stockholm last month.

Japan said it had started gathering information. “We have strengthened our position by establishing an information-gathering unit dedicated to international terrorism,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

In Singapore, the organizer of Britney Spears’ concerts in June said they were considering new measures.

“We are definitely looking at tightening security,” Yogesh Mehta, project manager at IME Entertainment Group, said.

“All our events are licensed by the police. It is normally advised by the licensing department on what precautions to take, how many armed guards we need. So we work closely with them.”

Singapore, which hosts a security summit between June 2-4 bringing together Asia-Pacific defense and military chiefs, made amendments to the Public Order Act last month.

It requires event organizers to notify the police a month beforehand if they expect more than 5,000 people to attend. And police may refuse to allow a public gathering if it has a direct political end or involves foreigners.
ON ALERT

Hong Kong’s AsiaWorld Expo, where Ariana Grande is due to hold a concert in September, said it would improve security at all concerts and events. Besides baggage inspection, there would also be metal detectors and search dogs, it said in a statement.

Hong Kong is already on high alert ahead of an expected visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to mark the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover to Beijing on July 1 when the former British colony’s new leader will also be sworn in.

In the Taiwan capital of Taipei, which hosts the Summer Universiade sports event in August, officials said they already have the highest levels of readiness.

“We will raise them even higher as appropriate in response to overseas terrorist attacks, such as the one in Manchester,” said Universiade spokesman Rony Yang.

The International Cricket Council said security for the ICC Champions Trophy next month and the ICC Women’s World Cup, both in Britain, was its “highest priority”.

“The security situation has been very much front and center of our preparations and we constantly review our procedures to guarantee they are as effective as possible to keep everyone safe,” the ICC said.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia’s biggest sports arena, said it was reviewing procedures. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government was working closely with other countries on strategy.

“While the threat level in Victoria remains unchanged, and there is no known threat to the MCG, we continue to receive advice from relevant authorities and together review our security processes accordingly,” the club’s spokesman said, referring to the state of which Melbourne is the capital.

SM investments Corp, whose Mall of Asia Arena in the Philippine capital will host Ariana Grande in August, said it would take all precautions.

“Our security is always stepped up especially for big crowds like this,” said SM investment relations chief Corazon Guidote.

In Kolkata, the business hub for east India, police said the security drill for public gatherings would have to be reviewed. – Reuters