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Dramatic scenes as police capture New York bomb suspect after gun battle

By Deepti Hajela

An Afghan immigrant wanted for questioning about the bombings that rocked New York City and New Jersey has been captured.

Ahmad Khan Rahami (28) was arrested after being wounded in a gun battle with police that erupted when he was discovered sleeping in a bar doorway.

He appeared conscious, his upper right arm bandaged and bloodied, as he was loaded into an ambulance in Linden, New Jersey.

Two officers were wounded in the shoot-out but were not believed to be seriously hurt.

The arrest came just hours after police issued a bulletin and photo of Rahami, a naturalised US citizen from Afghanistan who lived with family in an apartment in Elizabeth, New Jersey, over a fried-chicken restaurant owned by his father.

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said that late yesterday morning, the owner of a bar reported someone asleep in his doorway. A police officer went to investigate and recognised the man as Rahami.

Rahami pulled a gun and shot the officer - who was wearing a bulletproof vest - in the torso, and more officers joined in a running gun battle along the street and brought Rahami down, police captain James Sarnicki said.

Police did not disclose how they zeroed in on Rahami as a person of interest in the weekend explosions but were known to be poring over surveillance video and examining bomb fragments and components for evidence.

At the same time, five people who were pulled over in a vehicle on Sunday night were being questioned by the FBI, officials said.

Yesterday's shoot-out came after a weekend of fear in New York and New Jersey, with authorities saying the bombings were looking increasingly like an act of terrorism with a foreign link.

In addition to the blast that injured 29 people in Manhattan's Chelsea neighbourhood on Saturday, an unexploded pressure cooker bomb was found blocks away, and a pipe bomb exploded in a New Jersey shore town before a charity race. No one was injured there.

On Sunday, five explosive devices were discovered in a trash can at an Elizabeth train station.

Also on Saturday, a man who authorities say referred to Allah wounded nine people in a stabbing rampage at a Minnesota mall before being shot dead by an off-duty police officer.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, but authorities have not drawn any connection between the bloodshed there and the bombings.

Citing the FBI, New Jersey State Police said yesterday that the bombings in Chelsea and the New Jersey shore town Seaside Park were connected.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that as investigators gathered information, they learned there were "certain commonalities among the bombs", leading authorities to believe "that there was a common group behind the bombs".

Before Rahami's capture, Mr Cuomo said investigators had no reason to believe there were further threats, but the public should "be on constant guard".

Around the time Rahami was taken into custody, President Barack Obama was in New York on a previously scheduled visit for a meeting of the UN General Assembly, and said it was "extremely fortunate" nobody was killed in the bombings.

He called on Americans to show the world "we will never give in to fear".

"We all have a role to play as citizens to make sure we don't succumb to that fear," the president said. "And there's no better example of that than the people of New York and New Jersey."

Rahami lived with his family on a busy street a few miles from Newark airport. Early on Monday, FBI agents swarmed the apartment.

On Sunday night, FBI agents in Brooklyn stopped "a vehicle of interest" in the investigation of the Manhattan explosion.

No further details were provided, but officials said five people in the car were being questioned by FBI in Manhattan.

Belfast Telegraph


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