Three attacks – what we know so far

Police investigate at the site of an explosion that occurred on Saturday night on September 18, 2016 in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. An explosion in a construction dumpster that injured 29 people is being labeled an "intentional act". A second device, a pressure cooker, was found four blocks away that an early investigation found was likely also a bomb. Image copyright Getty Images

US officials are investigating several attacks that happened over the weekend, including three on one day.

What do we know about who attacked Minnesota, New York and New Jersey?

What happened?

On Saturday morning, a pipe bomb exploded on the route of a charity race in New Jersey. Nobody was hurt, because the road was empty at the time. The race had been delayed due to an unattended bag. The event, which was planned to raise money for Marines and sailors, was cancelled.

That evening, a man dressed in a security uniform stabbed eight people in a shopping centre in a town in Minnesota. They all survived and none of their injuries are life-threatening. The attacker was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer. It happened in St Cloud, 70 miles (110km) from the capital, Minneapolis. The town’s police chief said the man had asked at least one person if they were Muslim. It is thought he was Somali-American.

At roughly the same time, more than 1,200 miles (1,900km) away in Manhattan, New York, a pressure cooker filled with shrapnel exploded. It happened in the Chelsea area where there is a bustling nightlife, and 29 people were injured. All were released from hospital by Sunday. The same kind of bomb had been used in the Boston marathon attack in 2013.

A second, similar, bomb found four blocks away was removed safely.

Overnight on Sunday and in the early hours of Monday morning, up to five explosive devices were found in a backpack inside a rubbish bin in Elizabeth, New Jersey. One of them exploded while being handled by a robot. The city’s mayor has said this was “not a controlled explosion”.

Media captionA bomb disposal robot tried to disarm a device under a bridge near the station

Were they terror attacks?

It’s hard to say – not least without a consistent definition of what terrorism is. The authorities have said the motive for all three attacks was unclear.

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo originally said the bomb in the city was “obviously an act of terrorism, but it’s not linked to international terrorism”, and clarified that no link to the so-called Islamic State (IS) group “et cetera” had been found.

But on Monday after an Afghanistan-born man was identified as a suspect, Mr Cuomo said there could be an international link. “Today’s information suggests it may be foreign related, but we’ll see where it goes,” he said.

The city’s Mayor Bill de Blasio said there was “no specific and credible threat” from any terrorist organisation.

For its part, IS said the Minnesota attacker was one of its fighters, but the FBI says it has not been able to find any link. The group has called for “lone wolf” attacks and has been known to claim responsibility for attacks by people who were later found not to have been in contact with the group.

Media captionThe moment of the New York blast was caught on CCTV

Is there a link between the attacks?

The investigation has not uncovered any links so far, even though the three bomb attacks were within the neighbouring states of New Jersey and New York.

Has anyone been arrested?

US media have reported that federal law enforcement agencies are questioning five people in custody, in connection with the New York bombing, but they have not been arrested.

On Monday, New York officials identified another man who is wanted for questioning. Ahmad Kan Rahami, 28, was born in Afghanistan and later became a US citizen.

Image copyright FBI

Will security measures change?

They already have. About 1,000 extra security personnel have being deployed to New York’s transport hubs as President Barack Obama arrived in the city. He was scheduled to be there on Tuesday to open the UN General Assembly, attended by leaders and delegates from around the world.

Image copyright AFP

What have public figures said?

“If you look at a number of these incidents, you can call them whatever you want: they are terrorism though,” said Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey.

The Democratic Party’s candidate for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, said: “This should steel our resolve to protect our country and defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups.”

Republican candidate Donald Trump was one of the first to say Chelsea was a bomb attack. He later tweeted: “Best wishes and condolences to all of the families and victims of the horrible bombing.”

So in sum, what do we not know?

We don’t know for sure who put the explosive devices in Manhattan and in the two places in New Jersey. Often people who leave bombs will have a message they want to get across, or a specific group of people they are opposed to who they want to target. Without knowing who they were in this case, we don’t know what their motives are.

That said, it’s possible that they are using a lack of information to spread fear more widely. If you don’t know who was targeted and why, you can’t guess when or where it will happen again. That’s bad for any society and any economy.

So far, we know very little either about the man who stabbed eight people in Minnesota. His name has not been made public and we don’t know much about his motivation, other than the responsibility claim from so-called Islamic State.

We also don’t know why those particular places were targeted, or whether they were linked.


Saturday 09:30 local time (13:30 GMT): Pipe bomb explodes on route of charity race in Seaside Park, New Jersey

Saturday 21:00 local time (01:00 Sunday GMT): Manhattan pressure cooker bomb explodes

Saturday 23:30 local time (03:30 Sunday GMT): Manhattan second pressure cooker bomb found but does not explode

Saturday 20:00 local time (02:00 Sunday GMT): eight people stabbed in Minnesota

Sunday 20:30 local time (01:30 Monday GMT): first of five pipe bombs found in a bin in Elizabeth, New Jersey

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