Eight people were killed and about a dozen injured when a man driving a truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists on a bike path in New York City yesterday. Authorities have described the incident as an act of terrorism.
The 29-year-old suspect was shot by police in the abdomen and arrested after he crashed the truck into a school bus and fled his vehicle, authorities said.
CNN and The New York Times, each citing law enforcement sources, reported that investigators found a note left by the suspect claiming he carried out the attack in the name of the Islamic State militant group.
The incident marked the greatest loss of life from a suspected terrorist attack in New York since suicide hijackers crashed jetliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, killing more than 2,600 people.
Tuesday’s assault, a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Centre, was reminiscent of several deadly vehicle attacks in Europe during the past 15 months.
“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 told a news conference following the attack.
A spokesperson for the US Department of Homeland Security similarly called the incident an “apparent act of terrorism”.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said the suspect appeared to have acted alone.
“There’s no evidence to suggest a wider plot or a wider scheme. These are the actions of one individual meant to cause pain and harm and probably death,” Cuomo said at the news conference.
The driver has been identified as Uzbekistan native Sayfullo Saipov.
He drove onto the bike path 3.05 pm and is said to have been carrying a paint-ball gun and a pellet gun. Two children and two adults were injured when the truck plowed into the school bus.
Of the eight people killed, six were pronounced dead at the scene and two more were pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, O’Neill said.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said 11 survivors with serious but non-life-threatening injuries were taken to hospitals.
Despite the attack, thousands of costumed Halloween revellers turned out hours later for New York City’s main Halloween parade, which went on as scheduled Tuesday night, just a few blocks from the scene of the carnage, with a heightened police presence.
Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, praised the first responders, and said such incidents would not stop New Yorkers living their lives.
Terror will not change New York, we will go forward stronger together. #Manhattan— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) October 31, 2017
US President Donald Trump tweeted about terrorism on Twitter, then offered his condolences later, saying “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of today’s terrorist attack in New York City and their families.” He also paid tribute to the “first responders who stopped the suspect and rendered immediate aid to the victims.”
Similar attacks in Europe over the past 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 Islamic State claimed responsibility.
Five months later a Tunisian asylum seeker, who had pledged allegiance to Islamic State, plowed a truck into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48.
On June 3 this year, a van was driven into pedestrians on London Bridge, leading to the deaths of 11 people.
On Aug. 17 of this year, a driver rammed his van into crowds in the heart of Barcelona, killing 13 people, in an attack authorities said was carried out by suspected Islamist militants.