Ahead of UN session: Police seek clues in New York blast that left 29 wounded

Published: September 19, 2016
New York City firefighters stand near the site of the blast. PHOTO: AFP

New York City firefighters stand near the site of the blast. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday there was still no indication that an explosion that injured 29 people in Manhattan on Saturday was linked to international terrorism, while investigators scoured the scene of the blast.

All 29 people injured in the bombing were released from hospital as FBI investigators examined remnants of the bomb plus an unexploded device found four blocks away and another device that exploded about 80 miles (130 km) away in New Jersey on Saturday to see if they were connected, Cuomo said.

No international group had claimed responsibility “but it is very, very early in the investigation,” the state governor told reporters, reiterating what New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had said hours after the blast.

“A bomb exploding in New York is obviously an act of terrorism, but it’s not linked to international terrorism. In other words, we find no ISIS connection, et cetera,” Cuomo said, referring to the Islamic State.

With world leaders due to arrive in the city ahead of the UN General Assembly, some 1,000 additional state police and National Guard officers were being sent to the city to patrol transportation hubs as a precaution, Cuomo said.

A sweep of the neighbourhood following the blast had turned up another device four blocks away consisting of a pressure cooker with wires attached to it and connected to a cell phone.

“From what we know now, and it’s limited, almost anybody could have fabricated these bombs and used cellphones as timed detonators,” said another US official familiar with the inquiry.

“There are instructions all over the internet, and the crudity, positioning, and relative ineffectiveness of these does not suggest that a more sophisticated group played any role in this.

“We will find who planted these explosives and they will be punished. … We will not allow these type of people and these type of threats to disrupt our life in New York,” Cuomo said.

“When you see the damage, I think we were fortunate that there were no fatalities,” Cuomo said.

Minnesota stabbing

A man who wounded eight people in a knife attack on Saturday at a mall in central Minnesota before he was shot dead by an off-duty police officer is a “soldier of the Islamic State,” the militant group’s news agency said.

The man, who was wearing a private security uniform, made references to Allah and asked at least one person if they were Muslim before he assaulted them at the Crossroads Center mall in St. Cloud, the city’s Police Chief William Blair Anderson told reporters.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify the authenticity of the claim made by Islamic State through the group’s affiliated Amaq news agency.

The FBI did not immediately respond when asked about the Amaq statement. “Whether that was a terrorist attack or not, I’m not willing to say that right now because we just don’t know,” Anderson said at a news conference.

“We’ll figure out what this is and when we do we will be transparent about it,” he added. He gave no details of the identities of the victims.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2016.

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