A defiant Andy Burnham has said Manchester's spirit would "prevail" in the wake of an "evil" terror attack on the city on Monday evening (22 May).
Labour's newly elected Greater Manchester mayor spoke just hours after the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert at the 21,000-seat Manchester Arena. The incident has left at least 22 people dead and dozens more injured.
"It's hard to believe what has happened here in the last few hours and to put into words the shock, anger and hurt that we feel today," Burnham said.
"These were children, young people and their families that those responsible chose to terrorise and kill. This was an evil act.
"Our first thoughts are with the families of those killed and injured and we will do whatever we can to support them. We are grieving today but we are strong.
"Today it will be business as usual as far as possible in our great city. I want to thank the hundreds of police, fire and ambulance staff who worked through the night in the most difficult of circumstance imaginable.
"Lastly I want to thank the people of Manchester. Even in the minutes after the attack they opened their doors to strangers and drove them away from danger. They gave the best possible immediate response to those who seek to divide us. It will be that spirit of Manchester that will prevail and hold us together."
Elsewhere, all major political parties have suspended their general election campaigns ahead of the 8 June vote in reaction to the attack.
Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to chair an emergency meeting of the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBRA) on Tuesday morning (23 May).
"We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack," May said. "All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected."
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn added: "I am horrified by the horrendous events in Manchester last night. My thoughts are with families and friends of those who have died and been injured.
"Today the whole country will grieve for the people who have lost their lives.
"I have spoken with Andy Burnham, the mayor of Manchester, who has fully briefed me on the operational response in the city.
"I would like to pay tribute to the emergency services for their bravery and professionalism in dealing with last night's appalling events.
"I have spoken with the prime minister and we have agreed that that all national campaigning in the general election will be suspended until further notice."