New York police investigate explosion near Times Square

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New York police on Monday said they were on the scene following reports of an explosion near Times Square. One suspect was taken into custody.

“The NYPD is responding to reports of an explosion of unknown origin at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, Manhattan. The A, C and E line are being evacuated at this time. Info is preliminary, more when available,” the NYPD wrote on Twitter. 

Karte New York Explosion Port Authority

“It was an attempted terrorist attack,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said during an impromptu press conference that was broadcast live on TV. “Thank god the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals.”

But the explosive device, described as a low-tech pipe bomb, malfunctioned and only inflicted non-life-threatening injuries to the suspect and three other people. The suspect, is 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, was arrested and taken to Bellevue hospital, which also has a psychiatric ward.

A policeman walks with a military style assault rifle in New York's underground transit system as commuters walk to work.

A policeman walks with a military style assault rifle in New York’s underground transit system as commuters walk to work

For now, the mayor said, officials believe that the suspect acted alone. Police are not searching for any additional suspects, and De Blasio said, “there are also no credible threats against New York at this time.”

The explosion, which was captured on closed-circuit television, happened at around 7:20 a.m. local time (1220 UTC) in an undergrand passageway that connects the New York Port Authority bus terminal with the city’s vast and sprawling subway network. The Port Authority is a major transit hub that transports nearly 250,000 commuters between New York City and New Jersey every day. 

One of those commuters, who gave his name as Fernandez, was in the Port Authority at the time of the blast. He told the Reuters news agency: “There was a stampede up the stairs to get out. Everybody was scared and running and shouting.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that US President Donald Trump had been briefed on the incident.

Authorities closed off road access around midtown. The Port Authority was shut down shortly after the explosion, with all subways lines passing beneath the bus terminal ordered to bypass the area.

Monday’s explosion came less than two months after an Uzbek man killed eight people when he drove a rental truck down a New York City bike path. The “Islamic State” jihadist group later claimed responsibility for the attack.

More to follow.

bik,dm/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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