NY car bomb threatened 'very deadly event': officials

A car bomb that threatened a "very deadly event" failed to go off Saturday in the heart of New York's Times Square, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday.

"We are very lucky... (to) avoid what could have been a very deadly event," Bloomberg said at an impromptu press conference. "The bomb squad confirmed that the suspicious vehicle indeed did contain an explosive device."

Bloomberg also said the bomb was homemade and "looked amateurish" but "certainly could have exploded."

New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the device consisted of three propane tanks, consumer-grade fireworks, two gasoline containers, wires and two clocks.

Times Square, one of the busiest areas of New York, remained under police lock down hours after the incident as security forces entered a huge manhunt for the driver of the dark green Nissan Pathfinder.

"We do not know who drove the car," Bloomberg said. "We have no idea who did this or why."

Police seal off Times Square. A car bomb that threatened a very deadly event failed to go off Saturday in the heart of New York's Times Square, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday

Kelly said that the Nissan with tinted windows had license plates belonging to a different vehicle and had been caught driving in the area just before the incident.

Police began "observing white smoke inside and coming out of the rear of the vehicle," Kelly said, and "began to clear pedestrians." Fire fighters, then bomb squad staff were called in.

No detail was given on how the components were meant to have fitted together and whether the clocks were used as timers.

The bomb scare raised tensions across the United States where security forces have been on edge since a Christmas Day alleged attempt by a Nigerian man to set off a bomb on a US airliner.

The White House said President Barack Obama was briefed "on the excellent work by the NYPD in relation to the incident in Times Square" at about 10:45 pm Saturday (0245 GMT Sunday).

"The president commended the quick action by the NYPD and asked John Brennan to communicate to NYPD that the federal government is prepared to provide support," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement.

New York City police are on constant alert after a string of terrorist plots and alleged plots in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

source AFP

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