US blasts suspect held after shootout
NEW YORK – The New York and New Jersey bombings suspect is in custody after a shootout with police that began when he was found sleeping in a bar doorway.
Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, is undergoing surgery for a gunshot wound. Two officers were also injured in the confrontation in Linden, New Jersey.
Linden is four miles south-west of the city of Elizabeth, where further devices were found late on Sunday.
The FBI said no other suspect was being sought over the weekend’s blasts.
Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said the suspect was found sleeping in the vestibule of Merdie’s Tavern by the owner, who reported him to police.
When a police officer went to investigate and wake him, he realised he resembled the man in the wanted poster, the mayor said.
“Within moments the suspect fired on him. Thank God he had his vest on.”
The injured police officers are “ok and safe”, Armstead said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said officials “have every reason to believe this was an act of terror”.
FBI assistant director in charge of New York, William Sweeney, told a news conference investigators had found evidence linking Rahami to devices in both New Jersey and New York.
He said there was no indication a terror cell was active in the area.
Rahami, an Afghan-born US citizen, had been named by the FBI as a suspect in Saturday’s bombing in Manhattan.
His family home in Elizabeth was being searched by officers.
The bombing in the Chelsea district injured 29 people. An unexploded device was found nearby.
Other devices have been found or have exploded in New Jersey over the past few days.
Early on Saturday, a pipe bomb exploded in a shore town ahead of a charity race. No-one was hurt.
One of several devices found in an abandoned backpack near the railway station in Elizabeth exploded as a police robot was trying to disarm it in the early hours of Monday morning.
Local residents in Elizabeth, who had encountered Rahami in his work at the family’s fried chicken bar, said the family were ordinary and “Americanised”.
“He’s a very friendly guy, that’s what’s so scary,” said Ryan McCann.
President Barack Obama, speaking in New York, said officials did not believe there was a connection between events in New York and New Jersey and a stabbing attack in Minnesota, also on Saturday, in which nine people were injured.
That attack was apparently carried out by a 22-year-old ethnic Somali.
Obama said it was “extremely fortunate” that nobody was killed in the bombings in New York and New Jersey.
The president said that the US would continue to go after so-called Islamic State (IS).
“We will continue to lead the global coalition and the fight to destroy Isil [IS] which is instigating a lot of people over the internet to carry out attacks,” he said.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged jittery Americans to be “vigilant but not afraid”.
“It is crucial that we continue to build up trust between law enforcement and Muslim American communities,” she said.
Her Republican rival for the presidency in November’s election, Donald Trump, wrote in a Facebook post: “Hillary Clinton’s weakness while she was Secretary of State has emboldened terrorists all over the world to attack the US, even on our own soil.
“They are hoping and praying that Hillary Clinton becomes president –– so that they can continue their savagery and murder,” Trump said.