NEW YORK: A pickup driver killed eight people in New York on Tuesday, mowing down cyclists and pedestrians before striking a school bus, in the city’s first deadly attack blamed on terror since September 11, 2001.
Eleven others were seriously hurt when the truck driver struck in broad daylight just blocks from the 9/11 Memorial, on the West Side of Lower Manhattan, close to schools as children and their parents geared up to celebrate Halloween.
“This was an act of terror and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Law enforcement sources identified the perpetrator as Sayfullo Saipov, 29. He was arrested in Missouri on a traffic fine last year.
The Uzbek citizen living in Tampa, Florida had recently been staying in New Jersey, where the truck was rented, reports said.
President Donald Trump denounced him as “very sick” and a “deranged person.”
Confronting what could be the most serious terror-related incident since taking power less than a year ago, the Republican commander-in-chief announced that he had ordered the Department of Homeland Security to step up his “extreme vetting program” on foreign travelers to the country.
The United States “must not” allow Islamic State jihadists to “return, or enter” the country after being defeated overseas, Trump said, albeit as New York officials declined to link the assailant to a specific group.