A man detonated a pipe bomb strapped to his chest near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City Monday – injuring himself and thee others in an incident that mayor Bill de Blasio called an “attempted terrorist attack”.
New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill identified the suspect as 27-year old Akayed Ullah, who was being treated for burns and wounds in a nearby hospital under police custody.
Ullah “intentionally” detonated the device, confirmed as a pipe bomb, O’Neill told reporters, speaking alongside mayor de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Monday morning.
News reports say Ullah came to the U.S. from Bangladesh about seven years ago and was a legal permament U.S. resident.
The New York Fire Department confirmed three other injuries in the blast, all non-life-threatening.
Areas around 42nd street and 8th avenue remained blocked off hours after the blast, with an increased police presence and multiple firetrucks, according to a VOA reporter at the scene. Due to major delays and cancellations on the subway systems, a number of offices in Manhattan had told their employees not to come in to work Monday.
Subway lines were expected to be back on usual schedules by Monday evening’s rush hour, after trains were evacuated and bypassing the 42nd street stop, which is in the heart of Manhattan’s Times Square – a popular destination among tourists.
In addition to a busy area for tourists, particularly around the holiday season, Port Authority is a central transportation hub in New York – where all the buses from New Jersey arrive as well as most of the buses that connect New York to neighboring states and cities. Most subway lines throughout all of New York also connect at 42nd street.
“Let’s be clear as New Yorker’s our lives revolve around the subways when we hear an attack on the subways, it’s incredibly unsettling. And let’s be also clear this was an attempted terrorist attack. Thank god the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals,” Mayor de Blasio said. He added that there were no additional known incidents or threats.
“This is New York. The reality is that we are a target,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
“The fear is always present with us, those of us that live in New York,” Laura Gonzalez, a New York resident who was at Port Authority Monday morning with her family, told VOA. But Gonzalez said that in New York, people learn “to go to work, to go shopping, to live the life we need to live.”
“Crazy people are everywhere, every time, and New York is a big place, and a public place so it is normal I think,” Ruben Schwartz, a tourist from Germany, told VOA.
Just over a month ago, eight people were killed when an man drove a truck into a bike path in lower Manhattan.
White House Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a tweet that President Donald Trump had been briefed on the situation.
The Department of Homeland Security is “working closely with federal, state and local authorities as well as local community leaders as the investigation into this matter continues,”
Acting Press Secretary Tyler Houlton said, echoing calls made by de Blasio and Cuomo, that “any suspicious or unusual activity should be immediately reported to local law enforcement.”