The United Kingdom’s threat level has been raised to “critical” in the wake of Monday’s terrorist attack in Manchester that left at least 22 people dead and another 59 injured after an Ariana Grande concert, Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement Tuesday evening. May said the threat level — the nation’s highest — indicates “not only that an attack remains highly likely but that a further attack may be imminent.”
“It is a possibility we cannot ignore that there is a wider group of individuals linked to this attack,” May added. The government will also set into motion “Operation Temperer,” which puts members of the military in charge of guarding “key sites” and events like concerts and sports games, freeing up police to focus on investigating whether Salman Abedi — the 22-year-old named Tuesday as the suspected bomber in the Manchester attack — acted alone.
The decision to raise the threat level was made by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, which sits within the U.K.’s domestic security service MI-5.
According to the BBC, the U.K.’s threat level has only been raised to critical twice before, once in 2006, during an operation to halt a plan to blow up planes flying across the Atlantic Ocean, and once in 2007, during a hunt for the people who sought to target a London nightclub.
“I do not want the public to feel unduly alarmed,” May said. “We have faced a serious terror threat in our country for many years and the operational response I have just outlined is a proportionate and sensible response to the threat that our security experts judge we face…. The spirit of Manchester and the spirit of Britain is far mightier than the sick plots of depraved terrorists. That is why the terrorists will never win and we will prevail.”