Pentagon issues alert after low-grade New York blastMarch 6th, 2008 - 11:18 pm ICT by admin
By Parveen Chopra
New York, March 6 (IANS) An explosion at a military recruitment station near New York City’s landmark Times Square early Thursday was being taken seriously by security agencies, with Pentagon issuing alerts to all army recruiting centres in the US. The blast caused by a low-grade explosive device kept in a small ammunition box occurred around 4 a.m. local time at the empty recruitment centre. It left a gaping hole in the front window and shattered a glass door, twisting and blackening its metal frame. No one was injured even though some policemen were in the vicinity.
Witnesses said they heard a big bang.
Eight blocks around the blast site were cordoned off for a couple of hours, but road traffic was flowing normally since and the subway was also running.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference near the site later in the morning that the blast seemed to have been “deliberately directed at the recruiters, which insults every one of our brave men and women in uniform stationed around the world”.
“But the city is safe and running, open for business,” he added.
“We are not intimidated and whoever the coward was that committed this disgraceful act on our city will be found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Bloomberg said. “We will not tolerate such attacks.”
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at the news conference that the Joint Terrorism Task Force was investigating the blast.
“The New York Police Department collected the evidence, which FBI will process in Virginia,” he added.
The police commissioner also said a witness saw a hooded man on a bicycle moving suspiciously in the area before the incident.
The CNN reported that Pentagon has issued an alert to all army recruitment centres in the country.
“If it is something that’s directed toward American troops then it’s something that’s taken very seriously and is pretty unfortunate,” said Army Capt. Charlie Jaquillard, the commander of army recruiting in Manhattan.
Soon after the blast, members of the police department’s bomb squad and fire officials gathered outside the recruitment centre - where the marines, air force and navy also recruit - which is next to a police station, with helicopters hovering around.
The recruiting station, located on a traffic island surrounded by Broadway theatres and chain restaurants, has occasionally been the site of anti-war demonstrations, ranging from silent vigils to loud rallies.
The police earlier said it was too early to say if the blast was related to two other minor explosions in the city.
In October last, two small explosive devices were tossed over a fence at the Mexican consulate in the city. There was a similar incident at the British consulate in May 2005.
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