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Device Found in NYC Resembled Type Used Against US Troops

Crime scene investigators work at the scene of Saturday's explosion in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, in New York, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Crime scene investigators work at the scene of Saturday's explosion in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, in New York, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

The unexploded pressure cooker with a cellphone attached found in Manhattan Saturday night resembled the crude explosive devices used against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Authorities did not immediately say whether explosives were inside the pressure cooker or it was inert but "the evidence we've collected is being taken to our lab at Quantico for review, and we are following every available lead," FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney Jr. told reporters Sunday morning, referring to the location in Virginia.

The pressure cooker inside a plastic bag was found on Manhattan's West 27th Street shortly after what authorities called a bomb exploded inside a dumpster on West 23rd St. near 6th Avenue, injuring at least 29 with flying debris. There were unconfirmed reports that the bomb on West 23rd St. also was a pressure cooker device.

At a news conference at the scene Sunday morning, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said all 29 of those injured in the blast had been treated and released from local hospitals.

"A bomb exploding in New York is obviously an act of terrorism," the Democratic governor said, but "at this time, this preliminary stage, there is no known link to international terrorism."

As a precaution, Cuomo said that 1,000 New York state police officers and National Guard troops had been deployed to the city, mostly to help patrol transit facilities.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said there were no immediate indications of a connection between the bomb on West 23rd St. and a bomb in a garbage pail that went off in New Jersey earlier Saturday near a Marine Corps charity run.

"We do not have any specific evidence of a connection, but that will continue to be considered. We're not taking any options off the table," de Blasio said.

There were no injuries in the blast at the Jersey shore beach town of Seaside Park. Authorities said the device in the garbage can consisted of three pipe bombs. One went off and the other two failed to detonate.

Also Saturday, a man dressed in a private security uniform and making references to "Allah" went on a rampage at a shopping mall in Minnesota, stabbing eight people before being shot to death by an off-duty police officer.

William Blair Anderson, the police chief of St. Cloud, Minn, about 65 miles northwest of Minneapolis, said that seven of the victims were treated and released from local hospitals. The eighth was still in the hospital, and the condition of that victim was not immediately disclosed.

Anderson told CNN that the attacker at the St. Cloud Shopping Center asked several of the victims if they were Muslim before lashing out.

The Amaq news agency, which has links to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, said that the attacker in Minnesota was a "soldier of the Islamic State," but the report could not be confirmed, The Associated Press reported.

In New York City, the pressure cooker found reportedly had wires protruding and a cell phone attached with duct tape.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, pressure cooker improvised explosive devices have been widely used, mostly with the intent to kill or maim personnel on foot patrols.

Instructions for making pressure cooker bombs were published in an article titled "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom" in the al-Qaida-linked Inspire magazine in 2010.

The pressure cooker bombs found by U.S. Marines in Afghanistan's Helmand province and shown to reporters had explosive material inside, usually black powder, and were crammed with rocks and metal fragments that turned into shrapnel from the force of the blast.

The blast would be partly directional, acting like a military "shape charge," as the explosive force sought the path of least resistance and blew out at the lid of the pressure cooker. The pressure cooker devices could be set off by a garage door opener, cell phone, or simple kitchen timer.

In 2004, the Department of Homeland Security put out a warning that pressure cooker bombs used in Iraq and Afghanistan might be used by al-Qaida operatives or sympathizers in the United States, National Public Radio reported.

"Typically, these bombs are made by placing TNT or other explosives in a pressure cooker and attaching a blasting cap at the top," the DHS said. "The size of the blast depends on the size of the pressure cooker and the amount of explosives inside."

The devices can be made with "readily available materials and can be as simple or complex as the builder decides." And they can be "initiated using simple electronic components including, but not limited to, digital watches, garage door openers, cell phones or pagers."

--Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com,

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Terrorism