NewsCrime World

Cops probe links between blasts and devices in New York and New Jersey

Cops probe links between blasts and devices in New York and New Jersey

Authorities have questioned several people after a car stop in New York City as they worked to determine whether there was a connection between several explosive devices found in two states in two days.

An explosion rocked a bustling Manhattan neighbourhood on Saturday night, and an unexploded pressure cooker device was found blocks away; there was a pipe bomb blast earlier on Saturday in a New Jersey shore town; and five explosive devices were found near a New Jersey train station late on Sunday.

On Sunday night, FBI agents in Brooklyn stopped "a vehicle of interest in the investigation" of the Manhattan explosion, according to FBI spokeswoman Kelly Langmesser.

She would not provide further details, but a government official and a law enforcement official who were briefed on the investigation said that five people in the car were being questioned at an FBI building in lower Manhattan.

No-one has been charged with any crime and the investigation is continuing, Ms Langmesser said.

Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, touring the site of Saturday's blast that injured 29 people in Manhattan's Chelsea neighbourhood, said there did not appear to be any link to international terrorism. He said the second device appeared "similar in design" to the first, but did not provide details.

On Sunday, a federal law enforcement official said the Chelsea bomb contained a residue of Tannerite, an explosive often used for target practice that can be bought in many sporting goods shops. The discovery of Tannerite may be important as authorities probe whether the three incidents are connected.

Mobile phones were discovered at the site of both bombings, but no Tannerite residue was identified in the New Jersey bomb remnants, in which a black powder was detected, said the official.

Authorities said the Manhattan bombing and New Jersey pipe bomb did not appear to be connected, though they were not ruling anything out.

The pipe bomb exploded in Seaside Park, New Jersey, before a charity 5K race to benefit Marines and sailors. The race was cancelled and no one was injured.

Late Sunday, five suspicious devices were found near a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage said the devices were found in a bag in a rubbish bin by two men who reported seeing wires and a pipe coming out of the package. One of the devices exploded as a bomb squad used a robot to try to disarm it. No injuries were reported.

There was no immediate word on whether the devices were similar to those in nearby Seaside Park or New York City.

Officials have not revealed any details about the make-up of the pressure-cooker device, except to say it had wires and a mobile phone attached to it. On Sunday night, police blew up the device, rendering it safe. A forensic examination of the device will be sent to the FBI Laboratory at Quantico, Virginia, police said.

Homemade pressure cooker bombs were used in the Boston Marathon attacks in 2013 that killed three people and injured more than 260.

On Sunday, a team of five FBI agents searched an Uber driver's vehicle that had been damaged in the Manhattan blast. The driver had just picked up three passengers and was driving along 23rd Street when the explosion occurred, shattering the car's windows and leaving gaping holes in the rear passenger-side door.

The Chelsea explosion left many rattled in a city that had marked the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks only a week earlier and where a United Nations meeting to address the refugee crisis in Syria was scheduled on Monday.

Witnesses described a deafening blast that shattered shop windows and injured bystanders with shrapnel in the mostly residential neighbourhood on the city's west side.

One New Yorker, Anthony Stanhope, was in his apartment when the blast went off nearby. He said at first he thought it was thunder and lightning.

"Then all of a sudden, car horns went off, and I thought, 'Oh, my God, this isn't lightning. This is too loud," Mr Stanhope said. "This is a bomb."