"It could have been a deadly event," said New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg to reporters when he and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly described how the police evacuated the heart of Times Square, New York, for several hours Saturday night, May 1 when a street vendor alerted a mounted policeman to a smoking SUV parked on 45th St just off Seventh Ave.
The NYPD bomb squad, working with a robot, found it contained an unexploded car bomb improvised from 3 propane tanks, 2 gasoline containers, electric wire, white powder, consumer grade fireworks, electrical wiring and two clocks. The device was made secure and removed for evidence.
The car's number plates did not match its make. Its provenance was run down to a used car junkyard, from where it was apparently stolen.
Police surveillance cameras posted around Times Square spotted the car driving in and pulling up, but no one running away from it, as one witness reported. The mayor said it would take many hours to scan all the footage and called on anyone who may have videotaped the scene to call the police hotline.
Asked about the identity of the bombers, Bloomberg said it was under investigation, but he said terrorists all around the world target New York as a symbol of freedom.
debkafile reported earlier: New York and its transport system are on terror alert after a SUV rigged with explosives was safely defused at the heart of Time Square Saturday night. Reports of a smoking car and a "mini-explosion" caused police to clear an entire block at the heart of Time Square, New York on a busy Saturday night of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, as a bomb squad and robot examined the smoking car. 42nd to 47th Streets and Broadway to 8th Ave. were shut down. The device began to burn but did not explode and is being treated as a failed bombing attempt. A witness reported a man had been seen running away from the smoking vehicle.
New York Police and emergency squads swung into action to search the area and other sensitive areas, including the transport system, for more explosive devices. The FBI is running a check with counterparts worldwide, including Moscow, London and Israel, to try and match up the device as a lead to the perpetrators.