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NY police evacuate Times Sq in false alarm over package

May 08, 2010

New York police briefly evacuated part of Times Square Friday to investigate a suspicious package almost a week after a car bomb was discovered in the same area, but it was a false alarm.

"We're responding to a suspicious package," a spokesman for the New York Police Department (NYPD) told AFP earlier. "We will be taking all necessary precautions."

Shortly afterwards the streets were reopened and a police spokesman told AFP that it was "all clear."

But the incident revealed how jittery the city -- site of the September 11, 2001, attacks -- has become since police found a large, but malfunctioning car bomb in Times Square on May 1.

The discovery sparked a 53-hour manhunt that ended with the arrest of Pakistani-born US citizen Faisal Shahzad.

A three-block stretch of the sprawling Times Square was cordoned off temporarily Friday when MSNBC television reported that the suspicious package was in a drinks cooler near a Marriott hotel. Times Square is one of the most densely packed areas in New York and a major tourist destination.

Meanwhile, interrogators were grilling Shahzad for a fourth day in a bid to resolve the puzzle of whether he has links to Pakistani jihadist groups, as he allegedly claims.

Shahzad, 30, has still not appeared in court or been seen in public since his dramatic arrest late Monday as he attempted to fly from New York to Dubai.

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