Saturday 20 January 2018

Truck driver kills eight in New York terrorist attack

Tthe suspect lies on the ground surrounded by police officers. Photo: NBC
Tthe suspect lies on the ground surrounded by police officers. Photo: NBC
Police tape rests on a damaged Home Depot truck sits after a motorist drove onto a bike path near the World Trade Center memorial, striking and killing several people Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
A girl weeps at the scene. Photos: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Colleen Long

A man in a rented pick-up truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists along a busy bike path near the World Trade Centre memorial yesterday, killing at least eight and injuring 11 others in what the mayor called "a particularly cowardly act of terror".

The 29-year-old driver, named by police as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov was shot in the abdomen by police and taken into custody after jumping out of the truck with what turned out to be a fake gun in each hand and shouting "Allahu Akbar" officials said. His condition was not immediately released.

Saipov has a Florida license but may have been living in New Jersey.

The driver barrelled along the bike path for the equivalent of about 14 blocks, or around eight-tenths of a mile, before slamming into a small yellow school bus.

The attack set off panic in the neighbourhood, with people screaming in fear and the bike path left strewn with mangled bicycles and bodies that were soon covered over with sheets.

"I saw a lot of blood over there. A lot of people on the ground," said Chen Yi, an Uber driver.

Police closed off streets across the western edge of Manhattan along the Hudson River, and officers rushed into the neighbourhood just as people were preparing for Halloween festivities, including the big annual parade through Greenwich Village.

The driver's identity was not immediately released.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called it a "lone wolf" attack and said there was no evidence to suggest it was part of a wider plot.

A law enforcement official who was not authorised to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity said witnesses told police the attacker yelled, "Allahu akbar" - "God is great" in Arabic - as he got out of the truck.

Asked about that at a news conference, New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill replied: "Yeah. He did make a statement when he exited the vehicle." He said the statement and the method of attack led police to conclude it was a terrorist act.

Deranged

On Twitter, US President Donald Trump called it "another attack by a very sick and deranged person" and declared, "NOT IN THE U.S.A."

Cities around the globe have been on alert against attacks by extremists in vehicles.

Isil has been encouraging its followers to mow down people, and England, France and Germany have all seen deadly vehicle attacks in recent months and years.

Police said the vehicle, a rented Home Depot truck, entered the bike path at about 3pm on West Street, a few blocks from the new World Trade Centre - the site of the deadliest terror attack in US history - and mowed down several people. The truck then turned at Chambers Street, near the trade centre site, hitting the school bus and injuring two adults and two children.

In addition to those killed, 11 people were seriously injured, police said.

A paintball gun and a pellet gun were found at the scene, police said.

"This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

At least two covered-over bodies could be seen lying on the path, and the front end of the pick-up was smashed in.

Tom Gay, a school photographer, was on Warren Street and heard people saying there was an accident. He went down to West Street and a woman came around the corner shouting, "He has a gun. He has a gun."

Mr Gay said he stuck his head around the corner and saw a slender man in a blue tracksuit running southbound on West Street holding a gun. He said there was a heavyset man pursuing him.

Screaming

He said he heard five or six shots and the man in the tracksuit fell to the ground, the gun still raised in the air. He said a man came over and kicked the gun out of his hand.

"So many police came and they didn't know what was happening," said Eugene Duffy, a chef at a waterfront restaurant.

"People were screaming. Females were screaming at the top of their lungs."

The right side of the school bus was bashed in, and firefighters surrounded it and worked to free those inside.

The White House said that Mr Trump had been briefed on the attack.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president and New York native had been briefed by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and would be "continually updated as more details are known".

Ms Sanders said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected."

Similar attacks in Europe last year killed dozens of people.

On July 14, 2016, a suspect drove a large truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice, killing 86 people and injuring hundreds more in an attack for which Isil claimed responsibility.

Five months later a 23-year-old migrant from Pakistan ploughed a truck into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48.

In April of this year, a failed asylum seeker careened down a busy street in a truck in central Stockholm, crashing into a department store and killing three people, in what the prime minister said was a terrorist attack.

Irish Independent

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