Governor: NYC blast that injured 29 has no ties to terrorist group

Police and firefighters are at the scene of a possible explosion in New York City, and authorities say at least 25 people suffered minor injuries.

The Saturday evening blast in New York City that injured 29 people and rattled a city so far has no links to international terrorist groups, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday.

New York investigators and bomb experts continued to comb through the scene Sunday, looking for clues that could point to the suspects.

Cuomo stressed it's still early in the investigation, but law enforcement officials so far have not found any immediate links to terror groups, such as the Islamic State, he told reporters after touring the blast site. He said the state will be dispatching 1,000 extra state police officers and National Guard troops to patrol subways, bus terminals and airports, just to be safe.

"When you see the amount of damage, we were really very luck there were no fatalities," Cuomo said. "Whoever placed these bombs, we will find them and they will be brought to justice. Period."

The explosion was from an apparent homemade device placed at West 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood in front of a residence for the blind and near a major thoroughfare with many restaurants.

A second device believed to be a pressure cooker was later found four blocks away on West 27th Street and was safely removed early Sunday, according to the New York Police Department. The pressure cooker attached wiring and a cellphone had been placed inside a plastic bag, the Associated Press reported. The device was removed with a robot and taken to a department firing range in the Bronx. Cuomo said both devices were similar in design.

A law enforcement official told the AP that the explosion that rocked the bustling Chelsea neighborhood 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.

Two pressure cookers had been used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260.

Cuomo said there was "signifcant" damage to property around the bomb site and it was fortunate there weren't more casualties. "There's glass everywhere, shrapnel everywhere," he said. Invesitgators are reviewing surveillance tapes from the neighborhood for clues to who planted the bombs, he said. He urged New Yorkers to return to work on Monday without fear of further incidents.

"They want to make you afraid and worry about going into New York City or New York state," Cuomo said. "We’re not going to let them instill fear, because then they would win."

At a news conference late Saturday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio labeled the explosion as an "intentional act" but said there was "no specific and credible threat to New York City from any terror organization."

The explosion occurred just after 8:30 p.m. ET at 133 W. 23rd St., between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, the New York City Fire Department said. All 11 people who were taken to Bellevue Hospital for treatment had been released by Sunday morning, Cuomo said. Others were treated for scrapes and bruises. There was at least one serious injury from the incident, officials said.

A surveillance video that emerged Sunday of the explosion shows people strolling down West 23rd Street, some with shopping bags, and cars stopped at a red light. Suddenly, a fireball lights up the sidewalk and smoke billows from the site as people run for safety.

Di Blasio said there appeared to be no connection to Saturday's earlier incident in Seaside Heights, N.J., where a pipe bomb exploded near a Marine charity run. In that instance the device was placed in a garbage can. No injuries were reported, and the run was canceled.

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force responded to the blast and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms dispatched a New York arson and explosives task force.

Ramon Lopez was at West 23rd and Sixth Avenue when the explosion happened. “It felt like a building was coming down,” said the 48-year-old East Harlem resident.

He ran about a half-block away then turned around and ran back to the scene to help people. He spotted a woman with a metal fragment in her eye saying, “I can’t see. I can’t see.” Lopez took her by the arm to an ambulance that had just arrived on the scene.

Lopez saw other victims bleeding from small spherical fragments and metal shards.

“I was telling (the victims) it was minor, but it was major,” he said. “If I told them it was major they would collapse.”

 


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