Times Square Bomb Scare

Craig Ruttle / AP

Police found a bomb smoking in a Nissan Pathfinder near Times Square on West 45th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues in the heart of midtown Manhattan, on a balmy spring Saturday evening. The smoke was seen by street vendor who alerted a mounted police officer around 6:30 p.m. The officer called for backup, and the fire department and bomb squad arrived.

Thousands of people in the area, which includes much of New York's famed theater district, were evacuated, including many tourists who are still unable at the time of this writing to return to their hotels. The vehicle reportedly has Connecticut license plates on it, but they are not registered to the vehicle.

The potentially explosive materials were successfully removed without an explosion. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the sports utility vehicle contained "explosive elements" that included "propane tanks, some kind of powder, gasoline and a timing device."

Browne also says the NYPD bomb squad characterized it as a "crude car bomb." It appears that the intent was simply to ignite explosive devices, not build a bomb as the subway bombing conspiracy members in New York had attempted. The implication of that, according to Evan Kohlmann, a terrorism expert speaking on MSNBC, is that the terrorist who built the device was not highly trained and may not be associated with a major terrorist organization.

The incident is drawing comparisons to a similar near miss of a deadly bombing in London in 2007.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg hurried back from the White House Correspondents' Dinner in Washington, D.C., and President Obama was briefed.

The White House press office issued the following statement:

At about 1045 PM, the President was updated on the excellent work by the NYPD in relation to the incident in Times Square. The President commended the quick action by the NYPD and asked John Brennan to communicate to NYPD that the federal government is prepared to provide support. John Brennan, working with the NYPD and others, will continue to keep the President up to date on the investigation.

Read more about the scene on the ground in The New York Times and on MSNBC.

Times Square Bomb Scare | News