Lower Manhattan Attack Bears Marks Of Terror Recently Seen In Europe

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A deadly incident on the West Side of lower Manhattan appears to be the latest terror attack involving the use of a vehicle as a weapon.

Eight people were killed and more than a dozen injured after a truck plowed into several people on a bike path in Lower Manhattan Tuesday afternoon.

A suspect was shot by police and is in custody.

The scene immediately reminded many of a series of terror attacks in Europe in recent months in which terrorists also used vehicles.

The most infamous of the attacks happened in Nice, France, in July of 2016 on Bastille Day when a man drove a truck into a festive crowd along a promenade killing 86 people and injuring nearly 500 others. He was shot dead by police.

In December, in Berlin, a driver stole a truck and drove into a Christmas market killing 12 people and injuring 56 others.

The carnage continued this year when Spain was struck by terror in August. A man driving a van hit pedestrians in Barcelona killing 13 people and injuring 130 others, 9 hours later police in Catalan stopped a second vehicle attack.

In June, attackers drove across the London Bridge and hit a number of pedestrians before pulling out knives and running into a crowded market killing seven and injuring dozens. ISIS took credit saying the attack was executed by a detachment of state fighters.

London was also the target in March when a man on the bridge drove into pedestrians killing four and fatally stabbing a police officer near parliament.

CBS News Senior Terrorism Analyst Fran Townsend said authorities in the U.S. have feared such an attack.

“I think authorities have been expecting this. After the NICE attack authorities went out to 148 truck rental places that they have kept in touch with, talked to to try to identify these sorts of individuals would try to do this before the attack,” she said.

CBSN Terror expert Paul Viollas said it’s important to understand how the attacker may have plotted his strike.

“He picked it carefully because it’s three o’clock in the afternoon, it’s Halloween, there’s kids, there’s a lot of kids,” he said. “That wasn’t happenstance, he clearly scouted the area and made sure it was a particular time.”

Authorities said vehicle attacks have grown because they don’t require access to weapons, they can be done with very little training, and they cause significant casualties.

“We’re going to have to examine doing something differently going forward when it comes to someone renting a truck,” Viollas said.

Experts attribute the rise of this kind of attack in part, to the success of fighting terror. Attackers have a harder time getting their hands on things like explosives, so they turn to the simpler alternative.

“We’ve gotten better at protecting large pedestrian areas, think about the area around the 9-11 memorial. We can protect a discreet area, but an area like the West Side Highway is nearly impossible to protect,” Townsend said.

Authorities are expected to make security changes in response to the attack.

The attack has prompted additional security at Tuesday night’s Halloween Parade, however Governor Andrew Cuomo said there is ‘no additional threat to public safety.’

Officials were also asking New Yorkers to remain extra-vigilant as they stepped out to enjoy Halloween, and reminded them that if they see something, they need to say something.

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