NEW YORK - Police, tipped off by a street vendor, found and defused a car bomb inside a sport utility vehicle, averting an "act of terrorism" that forced the evacuation of New York's Times Square on Saturday and could have killed many people, authorities said yesterday.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg told a news conference that "we have no idea who did this or why". He said the failed bomb - made of propane, petrol and fireworks - appeared to have been made in an amateurish manner.
Times Square is a popular destination in Manhattan's Midtown, and was packed with tourists and theater-goers on a busy and warm Saturday night.
"Luckily, no one is hurt, and now the full attention of city, state and federal law enforcement will be turned to bringing the guilty party to justice in this act of terrorism," New York governor David Paterson said in a statement.
Bloomberg said a T-shirt street vendor noticed "an unoccupied suspicious vehicle" and alerted a police officer on horseback, who saw that the Nissan Pathfinder had smoke coming from vents near the back seat and smelt of gun powder.
US President Barack Obama commended the "quick action" by New York police in dealing with the incident and said they had done "excellent work".
The bomb was discovered at about 6.30pm in the vehicle parked on 45th Street and Broadway with its engine running and hazard lights flashing, officials said.
It had Connecticut licence plates that did not match the vehicle.
Kelly said the bomb squad had removed and dismantled three propane tanks, consumer grade fireworks, two filled 19-litre petrol containers, two clocks, batteries in each of the clocks, electrical wire and other components.
A locked metal box resembling a gun locker had also been removed and taken to a safe location to be detonated, he said.
"This wasn't make-believe. This wasn't a false alarm. This was the real deal - to hurt people," said fire commissioner Sal Cassano, adding that the force of the bomb had it gone off could have taken down the front of a building. - Reuters.