Speaking on the steps of Downing Street, the Prime Minister said the suicide bomber deliberately chose the place where he could cause “maximum carnage” when he detonated a bomb at an Ariana Grande concert outside Manchester arena.
She said: “Those who were injured are being treated in eight different hospitals across Greater Manchester – many are being treated for life threatening conditions.
“And we know that among those killed and injured were many children and young people.
“We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not as a scene to cherish but as an opportunity for carnage.”
Mrs May, who spoke after chairing a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee, added: “All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks on innocent people but this attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice – deliberately targeting innocent defenceless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.
She confirmed that police and security services believe they know the identity of the man responsible and are now working to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a group.
Mrs May condemned the “cowardice” of the attacker and hailed those who rushed to help.
She said they had shown “the spirit of Britain … a spirit that through years of conflict and terrorism has never been broken and will never be broken”.
She vowed: “The terrorists will never win and our values, our country and our way of life will always prevail.”
The Prime Minister confirmed the threat level remains at severe, meaning a terrorist attack is highly likely.
However she hinted that that may change, adding: “The independent Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, which sets the threat level on the basis of the intelligence available to them, will continue to assess this throughout today and in the days ahead.”
Campaigning for the General Election has been suspended in the wake of the attack, which took place at 10.33pm on Monday night.
Top pic: PA