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5 Argentinian friends among 8 killed in deadly Manhattan 'terror' attack

  • Eight people were dead and more than 12 injured in a terrorist attack late Tuesday afternoon in lower Manhattan, New York's mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday
  • A 29-year-old male drove a rented Home Depot pickup truck southbound on the West Side bicycle path, striking bicyclists and pedestrians, said New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill
  • A police officer shot the suspect in the abdomen, and he was transported to a hospital. O'Neill said the suspect's name is not being released at this time

A group of five friends from Argentina were among the eight people killed in a terrorist attack in lower Manhattan late Tuesday afternoon.

More than 12 were injured in the attack, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

NBC News said the suspect is Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbek national who entered the U.S. in 2010. Saipov was an Uber driver and passed the ride hailing app's background check, according to an Uber statement, the Associated Press reported.

On Tuesday afternoon, the suspect drove a Home Depot pickup truck on the West Side bicycle path, entering at Houston Street before driving southbound, striking bicyclists and pedestrians, said New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill. The truck collided with a school bus at Chambers Street, injuring two adults and two children.

The five Argentinians who died were part of a larger group of 10 friends in New York to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their graduation from school, according to Argentina's ministry of foreign affairs. Another Argentinian was injured and in hospital, the ministry said.

A Belgian national was also killed and three other Belgians injured in the attack, the country's Foreign Minister Dider Reynders confirmed.

The other two victims have not yet been named.

Emergency crews attend the scene of an alleged shooting incident on West Street in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31 2017.
Andrew Kelly/Reuters
Emergency crews attend the scene of an alleged shooting incident on West Street in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31 2017.

After the collision, the driver exited the truck and displayed two objects that appeared to be handguns but were later discovered to be a pellet gun and a paintball gun. He was said to have shouted "Allahu Akbar," or "God is Great" in Arabic.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev offered his condolences to his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump and said his country, where the attacker originated from, condemned "any forms and manifestations of extremism and terrorism."

He said Uzbekistan was "ready to use all the forces and means" to assist in the investigation into the attack.

A police officer shot the suspect in the abdomen, and the suspect was transported to a hospital, where he refused to answer an initial round of questions, according to NBC News.

The suspect claimed his action was done for ISIS, according to a note law enforcement officials found in the pickup truck, WNBC reported. The truck was rented from a Home Depot in Passaic, New Jersey, around 2pm on Tuesday, NBC News said.

O'Neill did not confirm the suspect said "Allahu Akbar," though O'Neill did say the statement the suspect made and the type of attack he conducted led authorities to label the incident a terrorist attack.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said there's no evidence to suggest there's a wider threat or plot but warned that people will see more security forces out of caution.

President Donald Trump called the incident "a terrorist attack" in a tweet, adding that the act was committed by a "sick and deranged person."

At least two bodies could be seen lying motionless on the path beneath tarps near mangled bicycles.

Tom Gay, a school photographer, was on Warren Street and heard people saying there was an accident. He went down to West Street and a woman came around the corner shouting, "He has a gun! He has a gun!"

Police at the scene in Lower Manhattan, October 31, 2017.
Todd Haselton | CNBC
Police at the scene in Lower Manhattan, October 31, 2017.

Gay said he stuck his head around the corner and saw a slender man in a blue track suit running southbound on West Street holding a gun. He said there was a heavyset man pursuing him.

He said he heard five or six shots and the man in the tracksuit fell to the ground, gun still raised in the air. He said a man came over and kicked the gun out of his hand.

Uber driver Chen Yi said he saw a truck plow into people on a popular bike path adjacent to the West Side Highway. He said he then heard seven to eight shots and then saw police pointing a gun at a man kneeling on the pavement.

"I saw a lot of blood over there. A lot of people on the ground," Yi said.

His passenger, Dmitry Metlitsky, said he also saw police standing near a man who was on his knees with his hands up, and another man bleeding on the ground nearby. He said the truck had also collided with a small school bus and one other vehicle.

"These kinds of attacks are almost impossible to stop without very specific intelligence information about the person that intends to carry this out," said Fred Burton, a former counter-terrorism agent with the U.S. State Department from 1985 to 1999.

Burton, currently chief security officer at Stratfor, added that individuals don't need a lot of training and skill to perform these kind of low-level assaults.

— CNBC's Holly Ellyatt and the Associated Press contributed to this report