Owner of bomb car quizzed by police

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly discusses Saturday evening's Times Square incident during a news conference

Investigators have spoken to the registered owner of a vehicle used as a homemade car bomb in a failed attack in New York, US police officials said.

But they would not say what they learned from the owner of the Nissan Pathfinder involved in the attempted car bombing in the heart of Times Square on Saturday night.

Paul Browne, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for public information, refused to disclose further details.

The 1993 dark-coloured sports utility vehicle (SUV) did not have a clearly visible vehicle identification number, but it was stamped on the engine and axle. Its licence plates came from a car found in a Connecticut repair shop.

Investigators remain anxious to speak with a man videotaped shedding his shirt on Saturday near the SUV where the bomb was found.

A surveillance video shows an unidentified white man apparently in his 40s slipping down Shubert Alley and taking off his shirt, revealing another underneath. In the same clip, he is seen looking back in the direction of the smoking vehicle and furtively putting the first shirt in a bag.

Attorney General Eric Holder said investigators had some good leads besides the videotape of the man but it was too early to say whether the incident was of foreign or domestic origin or whether it should be designated as a terrorist incident.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg told NBC’s Today programme that the person on the tape may not become a suspect.

“There are millions of people that come through Times Square,” he said. “This person happened to be in a position which a camera got a good shot of him, and maybe he had something to do with it, but there’s a very good chance that he did not. We’re exploring a lot of leads.”

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the explosive device in the SUV had cheap-looking alarm clocks connected to a 16-ounce can filled with fireworks, which were apparently intended to detonate the gas cans and set the propane afire in a chain reaction. Fertiliser also was found in the vehicle, but it was unclear if it would have exploded.

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