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Cookers left in NYC subway prompt evacuation, roil commute


August 16, 2019
By The Associated Press

NEW YORK—Two abandoned objects that looked like pressure cookers prompted an evacuation of a major lower Manhattan subway station and disrupted the morning commute Friday before police determined they were not explosives.

Authorities were investigating whether they were deliberately placed to frighten people.

“The suspicion is that they were placed there to suggest that they were electronic devices and possible bombs,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on WCBS-AM.

Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that an investigation was continuing.

A third, similar-looking cooker was also found about 2 miles away (3 kilometres) on a sidewalk in Chelsea, prompting another police investigation. Police said it was too soon to know whether that object was related to the other objects.

Police swarmed the find around 7 a.m. at the Fulton Street station, a few blocks from the World Trade Center and New York Stock Exchange. Dozens of suspicious packages are reported daily in New York City, but the proximity to the site of the Sept. 11 attacks served to heighten anxiety before police gave the all-clear.

“This is a frightening world we live in, and all of these situations have to be taken seriously because God forbid one day … it’s a real device.” Cuomo said. “We learned the hard way after 9-11, and we are prepared.”

Multiple subway lines were partially suspended during the police investigation and delays continued throughout the morning.

Michael Oji, a New Jersey resident who works in lower Manhattan, said he’s lived in the metro area for more than 20 years and saw the additional security that came to the area after the Sept. 11 attacks.

“This is supposed to be the safest part of the world, but when you see this, it’s a little bit unnerving,” he said just outside an entrance to the station that had been closed off by armed officers. “Going to work in the morning, thinking that everything’s OK, and you run into something like this, it’s scary.”

De Blasio thanked both police “and everyone who kept calm through this.”

New York Police Department Counterterrorism Chief James Waters tweeted photos of the objects.

Pressure cookers packed with explosives killed three people and injured hundreds when a pair of Islamic extremists detonated them during the Boston Marathon in 2013.

In September 2016, a pressure-cooker bomb went off in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood, injuring 30 people. The bomber, Ahmad Khan Rahimi, also planted a second pressure-cooker bomb nearby that never exploded and a small pipe bomb that went off along a Marine Corps road race in Seaside Park, New Jersey, frightening participants but injuring no one.

Rahimi, who had been inspired by propaganda from al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, was sentenced to life in prison.

In 2017, would-be suicide attacker Akayed Ullah set off a homemade pipe bomb in an underground passageway at the Times Square subway station during rush hour, seriously injuring himself.

Prosecutors said the Bangladeshi-born Ullah was stirred by Islamic State, but he said he was angry at President Donald Trump over his Middle East policies.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2019