By Nick Zieminski and Daniel Trotta
NEW YORK (Reuters) — A man with a bomb-like device strapped to his body set off an explosion at one of New York‘s busiest commuter hubs at rush hour on Monday, injuring himself and three others in what New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called an attempted terrorist attack.
The suspect in the incident at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, a block from Times Square, was identified as Akayed Ullah, the New York Police Department commissioner said. The suspect had burns and lacerations while three other people, including a police officer, had minor injuries.
The weapon was based on a pipe bomb and was fixed to the suspect with zip ties and velcro, police said. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking at a news conference near the site, described the device as "amateur level."
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told the same news conference that the incident, which happened at the start of the city's rush hour, was "an attempted terrorist attack."
"As New Yorkers our lives revolve around the subways. When we hear of an attack in the subways it is incredibly unsettling," de Blasio said.
The incident was captured on security video, the police said. Video posted on NYPost.com showed smoke and a man lying down in the tunnel that connects the Times Square subway station to the bus station. A photograph showed a man lying face down, with tattered clothes and burns on his exposed torso.
"There was a stampede up the stairs to get out," said Diego Fernandez, one of the commuters at Port Authority. "Everybody was scared and running and shouting."
Alicja Wlodkowski, a Pennsylvania resident in New York for the day, was sitting in a restaurant in the bus terminal building at the time.
"Suddenly, I saw a group of people, like six people, running like nuts. A woman fell. No one even went to stop and help her because the panic was so scary."
The bus terminal was temporarily shut down and a large swath of midtown Manhattan was closed to traffic. Subway trains were bypassing the nearby Times Square station, the city's busiest where buskers and other entertainers in the maze of the station's underground passageways often draw crowds.
WABC reported the suspect was in his 20s and that he has been in the United States for seven years and has an address in New York‘s Brooklyn.
First reports of the incident began soon after 7 a.m. (1200 GMT). New York in December sees a surge of visitors who come to see elaborate store displays, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, and Broadway shows.
News of the incident jarred financial markets as trading was getting underway for the week. Most U.S. Treasury yields fell on Monday after reports of an explosion in midtown Manhattan prompted safety buying. The dollar slipped against the yen; the S&P and the Dow opened little changed on Monday.
The incident occurred less than two months after an Uzbek immigrant killed eight people by speeding a rental truck down a New York City bike path, in an attack for which Islamic State claimed responsibility.
In September 2016, a man injured 31 people when he set off a homemade bomb in New York‘s Chelsea district.