A man sought by police in connection with bombings in New York and New Jersey on Saturday is in custody following what has been described as a shootout with police.
Law enforcement officials said Ahmad Rahami, 28, was detained in Linden, New Jersey, late Monday morning.
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New York and New Jersey Bombs: What We Know So Far
- A 28-year old man wanted in connection with bombings in New York and New Jersey has been taken into custody following what reports described as a shootout in Linden, New Jersey.
- The FBI said Ahmad Khan Rahami was wanted for questioning in the blast that injured 29 people in the neighborhood of Chelsea around 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
- Police say Rahami was also being sought for questioning in another bombing hours before the Manhattan explosion, about 135 kilometers south of New York City. Explosives detonated in a trash bin in Seaside Park just before a 5-kilometer foot race began. No one was hurt in that blast.
- Police say Rahami, a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent, was last known to live in Elizabeth, New Jersey, about 6 km from where he was detained in Linden. His family ran a restaurant there on the first floor of their home, according to local media reports.
CNN showed video of a man it said was Rahami, conscious and on a stretcher with what appeared to be a bloodied right shoulder, being loaded into an ambulance. Authorities later said he was undergoing surgery for a leg injury.
Two police officers and Rahami sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the shootout, local authorities said.
Police were searching for anyone linked to four explosives-related incidents in the last three days, including a blast Saturday night that injured 29 people in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Rahami is the sole person believed to be involved in the New Jersey and New York explosions.
"There is no other individual we are looking for at this time," he told reporters at a news conference after Rahami was detained.
As local officials have publicly debated for two days how to label the bombings, de Blasio said Monday: "We have every reason to believe this was an act of terror."
Local and federal police announced their search for Rahami early Monday.
Police say Rahami, a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent, was last known to live in Elizabeth, New Jersey, about 6 km from where he was detained in Linden. Local media reports say his family ran a restaurant there on the first floor of their home.
The FBI said Rahami is wanted for questioning in the Chelsea explosion, which happened around 8:30 p.m. Saturday, as well as in another bombing hours earlier in Seaside Park, New Jersey, about 135 kilometers south of New York City. Explosives detonated in a trash bin there just before the start of a 5-kilometer foot race. No one was hurt in that blast.
The FBI and police in New York have also been searching for possible links between the Saturday blast in Chelsea and another explosive device found a few blocks away that did not detonate. The second device, recovered a short time after the first went off, involved a pressure cooker with a cellphone attached to it. Police safely removed it from the area and said Sunday they blew it up in a controlled explosion.
Yet more devices were found late Sunday in a backpack in a trash can at a train station in Elizabeth, located just outside New York. Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said one of the devices exploded as police tried to disarm it with a robot. The incident briefly disrupted train service throughout the region, along one of the country's busiest rail corridors.
President Obama speaks about attacks in NY, NJ
Speaking from New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, President Barack Obama said investigators have not established any connection between the New York and New Jersey blasts and a mass stabbing in Minnesota on Saturday that injured 9 people. The suspect in that incident was fatally shot by police officers at the scene.
On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reiterated that the Chelsea bombing was an "act for terrorism," and said there may be a "foreign link," despite his claim Sunday that were was no connection to "international terrorism."
Authorities stopped a "vehicle of interest" on a highway in the Brooklyn section of New York late Sunday, and the FBI said it questioned five people inside, but no one had been charged with any crime.
All 29 people wounded in the Chelsea blast have been released from the hospital.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her Republican rival Donald Trump tweeted about the attacks Monday.
FBI technicians are examining evidence from both of the New York bombs at a lab near Washington.
Tom Sanderson, director of the Transnational Threats Program at the Washington-based Centers for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told VOA he expects investigators will learn a good amount from those tests.
"Someone's DNA is going to be on some component of that pressure cooker bomb," Sanderson said.
Many questions remain
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio cautioned Sunday a lot of work remains to figure out the motivation behind the bombing.
"Was it a political motivation, a personal motivation, what was it? We do not know that yet," he told reporters.
New York Governor Cuomo said an extra 1,000 police and National Guard troops would patrol the New York subway system as a precaution during a week that is especially busy for New York, with hundreds of world leaders and dignitaries visiting this week for the U.N. General Assembly.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told VOA that officials assess security needs inside the U.N. complex on a daily basis.
"Outside of the gates, we are in the hands of the host country, at the federal and local levels,” he said. “We appreciate their work and, no doubt, they are doing their utmost to keep everyone safe,” he added.
VOA reporter Victor Beattie and United Nations correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report from New York.