26 October 2016
Ahmad Khan Rahami is carried into an ambulance after a shoot-out with police in Linden, New Jersey, on Monday. Photo: WABC-TV/Reuters
Ahmad Khan Rahami is carried into an ambulance after a shoot-out with police in Linden, New Jersey, on Monday. Photo: WABC-TV/Reuters

Police arrest New York bombing suspect after gunfight

Police arrested an Afghanistan-born American who they suspect of detonating a bomb in the heart of New York City and planting other devices, capturing the 28-year-old in a dramatic gun battle that wounded him and two officers.

Officials did not offer any information on the possible motives of Ahmad Khan Rahami, but they said they were not looking for other suspects, Reuters reports.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the bombing that injured 29 people in the bustling Chelsea district was “an act of terror”.

Police in Linden, New Jersey, swooped in on Rahami on Monday, just hours after authorities publicly identified him as the prime suspect in the Saturday night blast and sent out an alert to millions of mobile phone users.

Authorities suspect Rahami, who lived in the neighboring town of Elizabeth, was also behind a bomb that exploded on the New Jersey shore on Saturday, a device found near the New York blast, and up to six more devices found near the Elizabeth train station on Sunday night.

The bombings and subsequent manhunt prompted even greater security in America’s biggest city, already on high alert for the gathering of world leaders at the United Nations in New York for the annual General Assembly this week.

An additional 1,000 officers were deployed.

Police in Linden were responding to a complaint by a bar owner of a man sleeping in the closed establishment’s entranceway.

“The officer realized that this might be the person that the FBI was looking for. The officer then said, ‘show me your hands’, and the person went to the side of his body and pulled out a handgun and fired a round at the officer, striking him in the abdomen. Fortunately the officer had his bulletproof vest on,” Linden Police Captain James Sarnicki told reporters.

Rahami indiscriminately opened fired on police, officials said, injuring another officer with broken glass that struck his forehead.

Police fired back, wounding Rahami in the arm and leg.

Eyewitness video showed Rahami handcuffed in a gurney, his wounds bandaged, before he was taken to hospital for surgery.

His condition was not considered life-threatening, police said.

Focusing just on the shootout, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office charged Rahami with five counts of attempted murder in the first degree and two second-degree weapons charges, spokesman Mark Spivey said.

More charges were likely in federal court but Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, said authorities would take their time.

Rahami had not previously been identified as dangerous but his family was known to police as a result of late-night noise and crowd complaints at a family halal chicken restaurant in Elizabeth.

Investigators said they had not yet determined a motive for the bombings and there was no indication that an extremist cell was operating in the area, William Sweeney of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York division told a news conference.

Authorities believe Rahami was responsible for the bomb that ripped through Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood on Saturday night, an unexploded pressure cooker bomb found four blocks away, plus a bomb that exploded 80 miles (130 kilometers) away earlier on Saturday at a Marine charity race on the New Jersey shore.

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