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NY police seek man seen around explosive-laden SUV

May 03, 2010 13:46 IST
Police probing the Times Square car bomb case have zeroed in their search on a white man in his 40s who was seen on surveillance videos shedding his shirt and walking away from the area where the explosive-laden vehicle was found. Over 45 kgs of fertilizer, with fireworks and wires fitted around was found with the bomb, police said, but it was not the ammonium nitrate grade that can explode.

The police are now looking for a white man in his 40s in connection with the case of the unexploded bomb that was found inside an SUV in a crowded part of New York on Saturday evening. A man can be seen walking away from the area removing a dark coloured shirt to reveal a red one underneath, according to footage caught on surveillance camera.

A tourist filming in the Times Square area also contacted the police claiming to have got a picture of the individual. On Sunday, the New York City police commissioner, Raymond Kelly noted that the car bomb could have resulted in a "fireball." President Barack Obama vowed to do "what's necessary" to catch the perpetrators.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano noted earlier that the car bomb was a terrorist attack. "We're taking this very seriously... We're treating it as if it could be a potential terrorist attack," Napolitano said. A video purportedly released on a website of a terror group by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing in Times Square, though the credibility of the claim is yet to be verified.

The group maintains that the attack was in "revenge for the Global American interference & terrorism in Muslim Countries, especially in Pakistan," according to US intelligence group SITE. However, claims of responsibility made by the Pakistani Taliban have been dismissed by US and Pakistani officials."A terrorist act doesn't necessarily have to be conducted by an organisation. An individual can do it on their own," Kelly said.

Pakistani officials said the Pakistani Taliban has neither the resources nor the global reach for carrying out such an attack. Traffic was stopped and redirected to the surrounding areas as police closed down a section of Times Square after a foot patrol officer spotted a parked sports utility vehicle identified as a Nissan Pathfinder around 6:30 pm on Saturday evening (4 am IST Sunday). The officer noticed a box inside the vehicle with smoke coming out of it.

The car, parked in a crowded area, was later found to be loaded with a bomb made of electrical components, three propane gas tanks, two additional gas canisters and a timing device - a picture of which has been released by the NYPD. Soon after, hotels, shops, and restaurants in and around Times Square were shut down and thousands of people, including tourists, residents, and theatre-goers, evacuated from the area. Later on Sunday, New York state governor David Paterson also termed the incident an "act of terrorism".

"Luckily, no one is hurt, and now the full attention of city, state, and federal law enforcement will be turned to bringing the guilty party to justice in this act of terrorism," Kelly said.

Betwa Sharma in New York
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