No apparent link between New York bomb blast and global terrorism, governor says

Governor Andrew Cuomo says preliminary investigations into explosion that injured 29 didn’t appear to show connection to international terror

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 September, 2016, 11:14pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 September, 2016, 12:37pm

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that a bomb blast that rocked a crowded Manhattan neighbourhood, injuring 29 people, doesn’t appear to be linked to international terrorism, and he vowed that authorities would find and prosecute whoever was responsible.

He noted that 1,000 additional law enforcement officers were being deployed after the Saturday night blast in Chelsea, a primarily residential neighbourhood on Manhattan’s west side that’s known for its art galleries and large gay population. He encouraged New Yorkers to go about their day as usual.

“We’re not going to let them win,” Cuomo said at the scene. “We’re not going to let them instil fear.”

The Democratic governor said the preliminary investigation didn’t appear to show a link to international terror, and he noted that no terror group had taken credit for it.

Authorities said the Manhattan blast didn’t appear to be connected to a pipe bomb explosion earlier Saturday in New Jersey that forced the cancellation of a charity run. He noted that the bombs included different materials.

A law enforcement official said that a second device that officers investigated four blocks from the scene appeared to be a pressure cooker attached to wiring and a cellphone. The official, who was not authorised to speak about an ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the device was found inside a plastic bag on West 27th Street. The device was removed with a robot and taken to a department firing range in the Bronx.

The law enforcement official also said that the explosion appeared to have come from a construction toolbox in front of a building. Photos from the scene show a twisted and crumpled black metal box.

The blast happened on West 23rd Street, in front of a residence for the blind, near a major thoroughfare with many restaurants and a Trader Joe’s supermarket. Witnesses said the explosion at about 8.30pm blew out the windows of businesses and scattered debris.

Cuomo said on Sunday that all the injured who were taken to a hospital after the blast had been released. He said most had been hit with glass or debris.

Some New York City subway routes were affected by the explosion, which rattled some New Yorkers and visitors on the heels of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Chris Gonzalez, visiting from Dallas, was having dinner with friends at a restaurant in the area.

“We felt it. We heard it,” Gonzalez said. “It wasn’t like jolting or anything. Everyone just went quiet.”

Rudy Alcide, a bouncer at Vanity Nightclub at 21st Street and 6th Avenue, said he, at first, thought something large had fallen.

“It was an extremely loud noise. Everything was shaking, the windows were shaking,” he said. “It was extremely loud, almost like thunder but louder.”

The FBI and Homeland Security officials, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arson and explosive task force, were at the scene. Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo toured the site on Sunday.