EDINBURGH Castle was lit up white in a sign of solidarity as the first victims of the Manchester terror attack were named.
Security for major events such as this weekend’s Edinburgh Marathon Festival and former US president Barack Obama’s visit to the Capital on Friday was today being reviewed in the wake of the concert horror which claimed 22 lives. Last night, Prime Minister Theresa May announced the UK terror threat level was being raised from “severe” to “critical” meaning that a further attack is “imminent”.
Military personnel could be deployed to the streets to support armed police officers.
Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos from Preston, 18-year-old college student Georgina Callander and John Atkinson, 26, were amongst those who died in the tragedy.
Two Scottish girls from Barra were reported missing following the blast – one of them, Laura MacIntyre, was later traced to a hospital with serious burns, while Eilidh MacLeod remains unaccounted for.
The so-called Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for the bombing in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 attacks in 2005.
Salman Abedi, 22, believed to be the suicide bomber, was born in Manchester and is understood to be of Libyan descent.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hinted that armed patrols would monitor this weekend’s Edinburgh Marathon Festival – set to bring 30,000 runners to the city and East Lothian – and the Scottish Cup final in Glasgow on Saturday. Hundreds are expected to line Morrison Street on Friday night for a glimpse of Mr Obama before his speech at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Police Scotland will keep all of these arrangements [armed patrols] under review as well as the arrangements for the various upcoming events that we know about over the next few days.
“These events range from the small daily events and celebrations that make up the very fabric of our society, to large-scale football matches, marathons and VIP events.”
Dr Tim Wilson, director of the centre for the study of terrorism and political violence at St Andrew’s University, said he expected security to be tightened ahead of the events.
He said: “Attacks particularly targeting leisure and what I call the war on relaxation, such as the Paris Bataclan attack, are [becoming] more frequent.
“That’s why I would be more concerned about marathons, football matches and concerts and they should look at security more closely in those areas.”
Police were called to reports of an explosion at the Manchester Arena at 10.33pm on Monday, shortly after US singer Ariana Grande had finished her performance. Yesterday, armed officers raided the address of bombing suspect Abedi, ordering residents indoors as they carried out a controlled explosion.
In Edinburgh, city leaders pledged solidarity with Manchester, lowering the flags at the City Chambers and the Scottish Parliament to half-mast.
Lord Provost Frank Ross said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and loved ones of this horrific attack. It is particularly upsetting to learn that children are among the dead. Our hearts break for their families.
“In the wake of such terror, we have seen Manchester defy fear and hate and respond with courage and love. It has been truly moving to see citizens and the emergency services show such support for each other.
“The people of Edinburgh stand by their side. The flags flying above our City Chambers have been lowered to half-mast and we will observe a minute’s silence at our council meeting tomorrow as a mark of respect and solidarity.”
Organisers of Mr Obama’s visit to the Capital – at the invitation of The Hunter Foundation – said they had been working with the Secret Service.
Agents have inspected the EICC and officers from the Metropolitan Police and Police Scotland have been involved in preparations for the event.
All staff and guests have been security vetted ahead of the event, in which Mr Obama will deliver a lecture in a bid to raise cash for local charities and the Obama Foundation.