New York City authorities say they found a potentially powerful bomb in a vehicle in Times Square late Saturday. Swift action by police and city residents averted what could have been a deadly car bombing attack.
New York City officials say police, firefighters and bomb experts were notified of a suspicious sport utility vehicle after a t-shirt vendor noticed smoke coming out of it.
Witnesses say they heard a loud "pop" from inside the vehicle, but that the car did not explode.
Officials say investigators evacuated Times Square and removed propane tanks, gas containers, commercial-grade fireworks and timing devices from the vehicle.
Speaking at a news conference early Sunday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said if it were not for the swift action of police and city residents, the outcome could have been much worse.
"Let me say that we are very lucky thanks to alert New Yorkers and professional police officers we have avoided what could have been a very deadly event," he said.
Mayor Bloomberg says the explosive device could have detonated and caused a large fire, but he called the device "amateurish."
The New York mayor says authorities do not know who was behind the car bomb, but that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies are pursuing all active leads.
U.S. President Barack Obama praised the New York Police Department's quick response.
New York Governor David Paterson released a statement calling the incident "an act of terrorism."
The IntelCenter, a U.S. company that studies terrorist groups, says it is too early to determine whether a jihadist group, or a domestic group or individual is behind the incident.
Times Square is one of New York's main attractions, with theaters and restaurants that draw thousands of tourists throughout the year.
New York has remained on high alert for another terrorist attack since the September 11, 2001 attacks in which terrorists toppled the World Trade Center's twin towers.