Another improvised explosive device has detonated in the New York/New Jersey area. Just after midnight Monday morning, a suspicious backpack near the Elizabeth train station in New Jersey exploded while being examined by a police bomb robot.
“The blast occurred around 12:40 a.m. near Morris Avenue and Julian Place,” reports NJ.com. “The explosion was not a controlled blast, but happened unintentionally as the robot was cutting the device, according to Mayor Christian Bollwage. No one was injured in the blast, Bollwage said.”
The device was one of five, which the FBI’s Newark division described as “improvised explosive devices,” in the backpack. After the first device exploded, authorities moved the press and bystanders to a safer distance. The device did not appear to contain any electronic detonators.
According to the mayor, the backpack had been reported to Elizabeth police by two men who found it in a waste basket near a popular bar, Wally’s Pub, on North Broad Street and Julian Place around 8 p.m. Sunday evening. Believing it might have “some value,” the men walked with the backpack a few hundred feet, but dropped it after seeing wires and a pipe. The Union County Bomb Squad was called in to examine the package.
“I’m not willing to admit Elizabeth is a terror target,” Bollwage told reporters (video below). “Because of the location, it’s very possible someone was trying to get rid of package as opposed to set it off.”
Sunday morning, the FBI reportedly raided an apartment on Elmora Ave:
UPDATE: The FBI have identified a suspect they believe to be connected to the Elizabeth devices, the explosion in Chelsea Saturday, which injured 29 people, and the bomb in Seaside, NJ: 28-year-old naturalized citizen Ahmad Khan Rahami, originally from Afghanistan.
The FBI describes Rahami as about 5′ 6″ tall, 200 pounds, with brown hair, brown eyes and brown facial hair. The FBI’s Toll-Free Tipline: 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).
UPDATE II: After a shootout in Linden, New Jersey on Monday, police captured Rahami. Two officers involved in the arrest were hit by bullets fired by the suspect, one in the vest and another in the hand. Rahami was injured but taken alive.
CNN reports: “Investigators first identified Rahami Sunday afternoon, a senior law enforcement official told CNN Monday. They were able to identify him through a fingerprint, the official said. The cell phone on the pressure cooker device found at the 27th street location in Manhattan also provided some clues, the official added.” Rahami also appeared in surveillance video footage.
Authorities have also indicated that they believe there might be an active terror cell in the area and have taken five men into custody.
“At 8:45 p.m. Sunday the FBI and NYPD conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle of interest in the investigation into the bombing,” reports New York’s ABC 7. “Five people inside, possibly family members and from New Jersey, were taken to an FBI building for questioning.”
Their car was stopped en route from Staten Island to Brooklyn. Authorities say they believed the suspects might have been heading to the airport. No charges have yet been made.
Another explosion occurred on Saturday near the start of a Marine Corps charity race in Seaside Park, New Jersey. A device exploded in a garbage can at 9:35 a.m., five minutes after the race was scheduled to begin. Luckily, the race was late in getting started so no one was in the area at the time.
Top image (AP): A police officer stands guard at a section of Times Square closed off to pedestrians after the bombing in the Chelsea neighborhood, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in New York.