Police respond to an explosion at the New York Port Authority © AP
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A man is in custody after he allegedly attempted to detonate a pipe bomb in a terrorist attack in an underground pedestrian passageway near the busy Port Authority bus terminal in New York on Monday morning.
James O’Neill, New York’s police commissioner, said 27-year-old Akayed Ullah suffered burns after the improvised explosive device he was carrying partially exploded at 7.20am. Several other people suffered minor injuries.
“This was an attempted terrorist attack,” said New York mayor Bill de Blasio.
The New York Police Department said the explosion happened near 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue — one of the busiest sections of the city that is home to a vast subway complex and the Port Authority bus terminal. Times Square lies one long block to the east.
“This is New York. The reality is that we are a target for people who would like to make a statement against democracy, against freedom,” said the New York state governor Mario Cuomo at a press conference outside the Port Authority building.
“We are not going to allow them to disrupt us.”
Surveillance video showed a cloud of smoke enveloping the busy space, then a man lying spreadeagle on an empty floor.
The incident comes as large cities continue to grapple with high-profile acts of terrorism. It is the fourth terror attack in New York in just over a year.
At the end of October, a 29-year-old man drove a truck along a jogging and cycle path in western Manhattan, killing eight people and injuring a dozen. in the deadliest attack in the city since September 11, 2001.
In March, a 28-year-old was charged with murder as an act of terror after the authorities said he travelled to New York to kill black men. He murdered one man, selected at random, before turning himself in to police.
In September 2016, a bomb exploded in Manhattan injuring as many as 30 people. Several other devices were defused. A 29-year-old man was found guilty of that attack in October this year.
Las Vegas was the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in US history in October this year, when a man killed 58 people and injured more than 500. The killer apparently shot himself as police closed in on him but it remains unclear what his motives were and the authorities have not classed it as an act of terrorism.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that a slew of train lines that run through the 42nd Street-Times Square station that partially runs under the Port Authority terminal were bypassing the stop. Vehicle traffic was also being diverted from the area and several exits on the FDR Drive, the highway running along Manhattan’s East River, were closed.
Users on Twitter said that they had witnessed people flowing out of the subway stop after hearing what sounded like an explosion.
Video played on local television showed fire trucks and police vehicles having swarmed the area, which is a major destination for New Yorkers, city workers and tourists.
Additional reporting by Mark Odell in London
Commuters exit the New York Port Authority © Reuters