A vehicular attack took place in New York City on Tuesday, killing eight and injuring 11. The attacker who is now in custody has been identified as a 29-year-old Uzbek national. The incident is being investigated as an act of terrorism.
About 3:05 p.m. local time, a man drove a rented truck nearly a mile down a bike path in Manhattan.
The truck drove as many as 20 blocks, reportedly hitting 20 people. As of this writing, eight people have been reported killed, including five Argentinian tourists and a Belgian woman. Eleven people who were hurt suffered serious but not life threatening injuries.
The attack was the deadliest act of terror in New York since the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
According to eyewitnesses, at one point the truck turned back to the road and hit a bus. The driver then left the vehicle and was shot by a police officer. The attacker has been taken to hospital and is expected to survive.
”Currently there is one person in custody. No other is outstanding. All information is preliminary as the investigation is ongoing,” the New York Police Department said.
The assailant has been identified as Sayfullo Saipov, 29, a truck driver who had lived in Tampa, Florida and was recently living in Paterson, New Jersey.
Saipov is reportedly an Uzbek national who moved to the United States in 2010, but the information has not been officially confirmed.
He was also an active Uber driver for more than six months after passing the company’s background check, according to a spokesperson.
Saipov has a record of multiple traffic offenses in Pennsylvania where he was stopped by police in 2012 and March 2015.
Act of Terrorism
“This was an act of terror,” Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, said at a press briefing. Earlier, law enforcement sources told local media that the incident is being investigated as a terrorist attack.
City, state and law enforcement officials have said there is no indication as yet that Saipov was anything but a “lone wolf” attacker.
Eyewitnesses told the police that upon stepping out of the car, Saipov yelled “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is Great.”
Saipov also left a handwritten note in the truck used to commit the attack pledging allegiance to Daesh, according to multiple published reports citing senior law enforcement officials.
In addition to the note, written in Arabic, officials reportedly found a Daesh flag, or picture of the flag, the New York Post reported.
In a tweet, US President Donald Trump called the attacker “a very sick and deranged person.”
Trump later wrote that “we must not allow ISIS [Daesh] to… enter our country after defeating them in the Middle East.”
Several hours after publishing his comments on Twitter, the White House released a more formal statement.
“My Administration will provide its full support to the New York City Police Department, including through a joint investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We offer our thanks to the first responders who stopped the suspect and rendered immediate aid to the victims of this cowardly attack. These brave men and women embody the true American spirit of resilience and courage. I will continue to follow developments closely,” the president said.
Trump has also ordered the Department of Homeland Security to tighten the refugee admission program, saying that “being politically correct is fine, but not for this.”