NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump has ordered to “step up” the already “Extreme Vetting Program” of the Homeland Security Department.
In a tweet following the deadly truck ploughing terror attack in New York, Trump said, “Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”
Eight people were killed and 11 injured when the driver of a truck rammed into people on a cycle path in Lower Manhattan.
The 29-year-old male attacker was shot injured by police as he left the vehicle and was later detained. According to media reports, he is presently in a hospital.
The media has identified him as Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant who came to the US in 2010 and has lived in Florida and New Jersey.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the incident in Manhattan was a “cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians”.
“We know that this action was intended to break our spirit. But we also know that New Yorkers are strong, New Yorkers are resilient and our spirit will never be moved by an act of violence and an act meant to intimidate us,” he said.
The suspect was shot in the abdomen by police and taken into custody after he crashed the truck into a school bus and fled his vehicle, New York City Police Commissioner James O‘Neill told a news conference.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the suspect appeared to have acted alone.
“There’s no evidence to suggest a wider plot or a wider scheme. These are the actions of one individual meant to cause pain and harm and probably death,” Cuomo said at the news conference.
The driver entered the bike path in lower Manhattan at 3:05 pm, O‘Neill said, adding that he was armed with a paintball gun and a pellet gun.
Two children and two adults were injured when the truck ploughed into the school bus, he said.
O‘Neill said the suspect was driving a rented pickup from the Home Depot hardware chain, but declined to say where the truck was rented.
After the attack, mangled and flattened bicycles littered the sunlit bike path, which runs parallel to the West Side Highway along the Hudson River.
Of the eight people killed, six were pronounced dead at the scene and two more were pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, O‘Neill said.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said 11 survivors with serious but non-life-threatening injuries were taken to hospitals.
Despite the attack, municipal officials said New York City’s main Halloween parade would go on as scheduled Tuesday evening, just a few blocks from the scene of the carnage, with a heightened police presence.
US President Donald Trump was briefed on the incident, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
Trump, who has pressed for a ban on travellers entering the United States from some predominantly Muslim countries, said in a Twitter post: “We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!”
In a statement, the Argentine foreign ministry said five of those killed were from Argentina.
It said the five men – all from the city of Rosario – were part of a group of friends celebrating the 30th anniversary of their graduation from a polytechnic school.
Tuesday’s incident the greatest loss of life from a suspected terrorist attack in New York since suicide hijackers crashed jetliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, killing more than 2,600 people.
Similar attacks in Europe last year killed dozens of people.
On July 14, 2016, a suspect drove a large truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice, killing 86 people and injuring hundreds more in an attack for which Daesh claimed responsibility.
Five months later a Tunisian asylum seeker, who had pledged allegiance to Daesh, ploughed a truck into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48.
On Aug 17 of this year, a driver rammed his van into crowds in the heart of Barcelona, killing 13 people, in an attack authorities said was carried out by suspected militants.