By Isaac KitiEight people died and 11 injured in the worst terror attack on New York since September 11, 2001 as a lone wolf extremist screaming “Allahu Akbar” used a pick-up truck to mow down cyclists along a bike path on Halloween.
The attacker struck just a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center memorial, running over afternoon riders on the path before reaching a road and ploughing into a school bus.
He then jumped out of the truck wielding what turned out to be a pellet gun, and a paintball gun. He was chased and shot in the stomach by a police officer but survived and was arrested.
The suspect has been identified as Ayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, 29, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, who arrived in the US in 2010. He has a Florida driver’s license but was reportedly living in Paterson, New Jersey, with family, sources told local media. US media, citing police sources, said that Saipov left a note in the truck claiming he committed the attack on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
A group of five friends from Argentina were among those killed, the country’s foreign ministry has said. The compatriots were celebrating the 30th anniversary of their graduation from Polytechnic College in the city of Rosario in central Argentina.
A Belgian national also died in the attack. Didier Reynders, Belgium’s foreign minister, told the Belga news agency that “it was a woman from Roulers in western Flanders who was on a city trip with with her sister and her mother” in New York. President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter: “Looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!”
Mr Trump blamed the attack on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant which has encouraged its followers to use vehicles to mow people down. The UK, France and Germany have all seen deadly vehicle attacks in the recent past.
The US president added: “We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!” A White House official said Mr Trump had been fully briefed by his chief of staff John Kelly and was being “continually updated”.
Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “appalled by this cowardly attack, my thoughts are with all affected. Together we will defeat the evil of terrorism”.The president of Uzbekistan on Wednesday offered to help US authorities in their investigations.
“Uzbekistan is ready to use all forces and resources to help in the investigation of this act of terror,” President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said, offering condolences to Mr Trump in a statement on the foreign ministry’s website.
The attack begun shortly after 3pm when the truck mounted a bike path that runs down along the western edge of Manhattan, along the Hudson River, at Houston Street. It headed south, smashing into pedestrians and cyclists as it picked up speed and leaving bodies crumpled in its wake.
Those who spotted the vehicle had little doubt the intention was terror, unable to think of another explanation for what they were seeing.
“I was just going to watch a baseball game” said Eugene Duffy, a 43-year-old eye witness to the incident.”I saw a truck and he was clearly in the bike lane at three in the afternoon.
“Then I saw two gentlemen lying on the path with tyre marks on their bodies.They were not moving.”He was going really fast and they didn’t know what hit them.”