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1993: World Trade Center bomb terrorises New York

VIDEO : Images from the World Trade Center bombing

A suspected car bomb has exploded underneath the World Trade Center in New York killing at least five people and injuring scores more.

The bombing has shocked America which had seemed immune from acts of terrorism that have plagued other parts of the world.

An emotional Mario Cuomo, New York's state governor, told journalists: "We all have that feeling of being violated. No foreign people or force has ever done this to us. Until now we were invulnerable."


"It felt like an airplane hit the building"

Bruce Pomper, eyewitness

The immense blast happened at 1218 local time in the Secret Service's section of the car park underneath and between what are New York's tallest buildings.

It left a gaping hole in the wall above the Path underground station. Most of those who died are believed to have been crushed by the station ceiling.

It ripped through three floors of concrete, scattering ash and debris and set off a fire that sent choking smoke and flames up through one of the 110-story "Twin Towers".

Total pandemonium

Thousands of office workers were trapped as smoke billowed up through the buildings.

With no working lifts or lighting there was total pandemonium.

People did not know whether to stay in their offices or brave the journey down via the smoke-filled stairwells.

"It felt like an airplane hit the building," said Bruce Pomper, a 34-year-old broker.

Desperate for air, some people smashed windows with office furniture.

Hundreds eventually poured out of the building gasping for air and covered in soot.

Rescue workers struggled to get oxygen to those in the upper floors. About 100,000 people work in and visit the 1,700ft towers every day - the blast happened at their busiest time.

Several people have called New York's police claiming they were behind the attack but authorities are keeping an open mind about possible suspects.

In Context
In May 1994, four men - Mohammed Salameh, Nidal Ayyad, Mahmud Abouhalima and Ahmad Ajaj - were sentenced to life for bombing the World Trade Center, which killed six people and injured 100.

In October 1995 Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind cleric who preached at mosques in Brooklyn and Jersey City, was sentenced to life for masterminding the bombing,.

He was also found guilty of the murder of extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane and a scheme to assassinate Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak during a trip to New York in 1993.

The bombing of the World Trade Center has been totally eclipsed by the events of 11 September 2001 which saw thousands killed, the collapse of both Twin Towers and an all-out "war on terror" declared by the Western world.

Rahman's organisation, the Islamic Group, is believed to have links to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, accused of carrying out the 11 September attacks.


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