Manchester Arena attack: Runners and events mark fifth anniversary

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Leader of Manchester City Council Bev Craig and Freya Lewis (right), start the Great Manchester Run through Manchester city centre, to mark the five-year anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombingImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig (left) and and attack survivor Freya Lewis both started the Great Manchester Run

About 20,000 participants in the Great Manchester Run held a minute's applause for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack on its fifth anniversary.

Twenty-two people died when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017.

Survivor Freya Lewis started the race before taking part in memory of her best friend, who died in the attack.

The 19-year-old, who learned to walk again following her injuries, said she was "tired but happy" after the run.

Manchester's mayor Andy Burnham, who also took part, described the day as "poignant".

Image source, PA Media
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Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and Ms Lewis took part in the run

He said the attack "could have divided us but it didn't, it did the opposite - it brought us together".

"I remember running around these streets [in the 2017 Great Manchester Run] days after the attack with tears streaming down my eyes just because of the number of people who were out and today will be poignant as well," he said.

Ms Lewis said her best friend Nell Jones, who died at the age of 14, was "a massive part" of her life "and to have her not part of it is still so odd".

"The atmosphere was great. I didn't feel as much as pressure, I just felt I could do whatever I wanted.

"I was thinking about Nell and the hospital (that treated Freya) on the way round. It was perfect, exactly what I wanted."

Image source, Family handouts
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Twenty-two people were killed in the suicide bomb attack on 22 May 2017

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted earlier that his "thoughts are with the victims, families and friends of all those affected by the cowardly attack".

"The bravery and defiance shown so courageously by Mancunians in the days that followed shows hatred will never win."

People have also been paying respects at the new Glade of Light memorial, which was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge earlier this month.

Earlier, the names of the 22 victims were read out at commemorations at Victoria station, which is next to the arena, and at Manchester Cathedral.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Glade of Light Memorial earlier in May

The cathedral's bells will toll at 22:31 BST, marking the moment of the attack.

Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig said the 2017 Great Manchester Run - held six days after the attack - had already shown that "love proved stronger".

"We will never forget those whose lives were so cruelly taken, or those whose lives were changed forever that day.

"But nor should we forget the remarkable spirit shown in the aftermath of the attack as the city came together in solidarity, compassion and a refusal to give in to hatred and fear."

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World champion Hellen Obiri, from Kenya, won the women's 10k race, while British Paralympic champion David Weir triumphed in the wheelchair event.

New Zealand runner Jake Robertson celebrated his victory in the men's 10k race by dancing at the finish line.

Image source, Great Run
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The popular run was launched after the success of the city's 2002 Commonwealth Games

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi, who was born in the city, also injured hundreds of people when he detonated a homemade device after the concert.

His younger brother Hashem was jailed for at least 55 years for his involvement in the bombing.

An independent public inquiry on the attack recently ended after hearing evidence from 267 witnesses since September 2020.

Its reports on the actions of the emergency services and whether security agencies could have stopped the bombing are due to be published later this year.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Large crowds attended a vigil after the attack in 2017
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Tributes were paid at a memorial at Victoria station near the arena

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