The suspected bomber is identified as Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old Bangladeshi national who is thought to have lived in the US for seven years.

New York Police Department (NYPD) officers stand guard near Port Authority Bus Terminal after reports of an explosion in Manhattan, New York, US on December 11, 2017.
New York Police Department (NYPD) officers stand guard near Port Authority Bus Terminal after reports of an explosion in Manhattan, New York, US on December 11, 2017. (Reuters)

A Bangladeshi man with a homemade bomb strapped to his body set off an explosion at a New York commuter hub during rush hour on Monday, wounding himself and three others in what New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called an attempted terrorist attack.

The suspect in the incident at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, a block from Times Square, was identified as 27 year-old Akayed Ullah, the New York Police Department commissioner said. The suspect had burns and lacerations while three other people, including a police officer, sustained minor injuries.

Akayed is from the Bangladeshi city of Chittagong and is a US resident, the police chief said. He had no criminal record there and last visited Bangladesh on September 8, the chief said.

Akayed had a black cab/limousine driver's license from 2012 to 2015, after which it expired, the NewYork Taxi and Limousine Commission said.

"Amateur-level device"

The weapon was based on a pipe bomb and attached to the suspect, police said. New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking at a news conference near the site, described the device as "amateur-level."

De Blasio told the same news conference that the incident, which happened at the start of the city's rush hour, was "an attempted terrorist attack."

"As New Yorkers our lives revolve around the subways. When we hear of an attack in the subways, it is incredibly unsettling," de Blasio said.

New York City was a target, said John Miller, deputy police commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.

Miller cited the attacks of September 11, 2001, that killed more than 2,750 people in New York and nearly 3,000 people total; and the World Trade Center bombing of February 26, 1993, which killed six people.

"When you hear about a bomb in the subway station, which is in many ways one of our worst nightmares, the reality turns out better than the initial expectation and fear," Cuomo told reporters. 

Later on CNN, he said the attacker apparently used the internet to obtain information on how to make a bomb.

The incident was captured on security video, police said. Video showed smoke and a man lying in the tunnel that connects sections of the Times Square subway station and the bus station. A photograph showed a man lying face down, with tattered clothes and burns on his torso.

"There was a stampede up the stairs to get out," one commuter, Diego Fernandez, said. "Everybody was scared and running and shouting.”

Alicja Wlodkowski, a Pennsylvania resident in New York for the day, was sitting in a restaurant in the bus terminal.

“Suddenly, I saw a group of people, like six people, running like nuts. A woman fell. No one even went to stop and help her because the panic was so scary."

Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi man who attempted to detonate a homemade bomb strapped to his body at a New York commuter hub during morning rush hour, is seen in this handout photo received on December 11, 2017.
Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi man who attempted to detonate a homemade bomb strapped to his body at a New York commuter hub during morning rush hour, is seen in this handout photo received on December 11, 2017. (Reuters)

Security measures

The bus terminal was temporarily shut down and a large swath of midtown Manhattan was closed to traffic. Subway train service returned to normal after earlier disruptions.

Investigators said the suspect was in his 20s and that he has been in the US for seven years and has an address in New York's Brooklyn borough. Police shut down the entire block and there was a heavy police presence outside the home.

The incident occurred less than two months after an Uzbek immigrant killed eight people by speeding a rental truck down a New York City bike path, in an attack for which Islamic State claimed responsibility.

In September 2016, a man injured 31 people when he set off a homemade bomb in New York's Chelsea district.

Source: Reuters