A deliberate explosion rocked one of the most fashionable neighborhoods of New York on Saturday night, injuring 29 people, one seriously, a week after America’s financial capital marked the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
The blast occurred in Chelsea at around 8:30 pm on West 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues at a typically bustling time of the weekend in an area packed with bars, restaurants and luxury apartment blocks.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said there was no known link to terror at this stage, albeit as police investigated 27th Street for a reported secondary device, scrambling to reassure the city’s 8.4 million residents.
The explosion comes two days before world leaders led by President Barack Obama gather in New York for the UN General Assembly, a time when parts of Manhattan grind to a standstill under draconian security measures.
“There is no evidence at this point of a terror connection to this incident, this is preliminary information,” de Blasio told a late-night news conference.
“There is no specific and credible threat against New York City at this point in time, from any terror organization,” he added.
AFP reporters saw a massive police presence at the crime scene, where they were joined by FBI and counter-terrorism squads, as police helicopters circled overhead and sirens wailed. Obama was “apprised” of the explosion and would receive updates on the situation as they become available, a White House official said.
Of the 29 people who sustained injuries, 24 have been taken to hospital with various degrees of scrapes and abrasions from glass and metal, said Fire Department commissioner Daniel Nigro.