A man with a bomb-like device strapped to his body set off an explosion at one of New York’s busiest commuter hubs at rush hour on Monday, injuring himself and three others in what New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called an “attempted terrorist attack”.
Police Commissioner, James O’Neil, confirmed at a press conference that suspect, 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, tried to detonate a “low-tech device” resulting in him sustaining burns and lacerations.
None of the injured are in a life-threatening situation and the suspect is in custody.
The weapon was based on a pipe bomb and was fixed to the suspect with zip ties and velcro, police said. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking at a news conference near the site, described the device as “amateur level”.
The NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Counterterrorism and Intelligence, John Miller, added “without getting into too many specifics the device was based on a pipe bomb”.
The explosion struck the Port Authority Bus Terminal around 7:20 a.m. (12:20 GMT), at the start of the city’s rush hour.
Asked if the suspect had any ties to Islamic State, Commissioner O’Neil said “he did make statements” but declined to elaborate.
The incident was captured on security video, the police said. Video posted on NYPost.com showed smoke and a man lying down in the tunnel that connects the Times Square subway station to the bus station.
A photograph showed a man lying face down, with tattered clothes and burns on his exposed torso.
Rosemary Usoh, 40, told HuffPost she was on the third floor of the bus terminal around 7:15 am when at least a dozen police officers with automatic weapons shouted for people to evacuate the building immediately
“They yelled at us to get out, that there was an explosion,” Usoh said. “I was nervous. There were a lot of people running.”
The A, C and E subway lines were evacuated, Sgt Brendan Ryan told HuffPost, and the busy Port Authority bus terminal was cleared and temporarily shut down. Other trains were bypassing Times Square and Port Authority stations.
“There was a stampede up the stairs to get out,” said Diego Fernandez, one of the commuters at Port Authority. “Everybody was scared and running and shouting.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo gave a rousing speech at the press conference held after the attack, saying: “This is New York. The reality is that we are a target by many who would like to make a statement against democracy, against freedom.
“We have the statue of Liberty in our harbor. Anyone can go on the internet and download garbage and vileness, how to put together an amateur level explosive device, and that is the reality we live with.
“The counter reality is that this is New York and we all pitch together, and we are a savvy people and we keep our eyes open and that’s what see something say something is about. And we have the best law enforcement in the globe.
“All the service will resume. Let’s go back to work. we’re not going to let them disrupt us.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Donald Trump had been briefed on the situation but he has yet to comments, instead tweeting about the “fake news” again.
News of the incident jarred financial markets as trading was getting underway for the week.
The incident occurred less than two months after an Uzbek immigrant killed eight people by speeding a rental truck down a New York City bike path, in an attack for which Islamic State claimed responsibility.
In September 2016, a man injured more than two dozen people when he set off a homemade bomb in New York’s Chelsea district.