Deaths as truck driver ploughs into New York crowd

At least eight people in New York City have been killed and 11 injured after a driver ploughed into cyclists and pedestrians before being shot by police, according to US officials.

The incident on Tuesday “was a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians”, Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, told a news conference.

Police said the driver of a rented pick-up truck, a 29-year-old man, entered a busy bicycle path on the West Side of Lower Manhattan, striking a number of people along the route.

The truck then collided with a school bus, injuring at least two children and two adults.

After the collision, the driver exited the vehicle brandishing two imitation guns, at which point he was shot by a police officer.

The suspect was wounded in the abdomen and transferred to a local hospital, James O’Neill, police commissioner, told the same press conference.

 A paintball gun and a pellet gun were recovered from the scene. There was no information about the suspect’s motive.

Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from New York City, said six people were pronounced dead at the scene and two died later after being transported to local hospitals.

He added that according to the city’s fire department 11 people sustained serious but non-life threatening injuries.

“All of this happened in Lower Manhattan, just a few blocks north of the World Trade Center where the 9/11, 2001 attacks took place,” said Elizondo.

“Tuesday’s incident happened on the West Side Highway Bicycle Path – this is significant because that’s probably the most well-used bicycle and pedestrian path in all of New York City.”

An injured woman is helped by first responders at the scene [Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said there were no indications of a wider plot.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those New Yorkers who we lost today. It reminds us all how precious life is,” he told reporters.

A spokesperson for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  described the incident an “apparent act of terrorism”.

“We have recently seen attacks like this one throughout the world. DHS and its law enforcement partners remain vigilant and committed to safeguarding the American people,” the spokesperson said in a statement. 

US President Donald Trump was briefed about the incident, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary, said in a statement.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected,” she added.

Even though police said the investigation was still pending and there was no claim of responsibility, Trump later tweeted that the US “must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere”, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, also known as ISIS.