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New York bombing is reminder of daily threat to cities

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In the words of New York's Governor, it was "one of our worst nightmares".
The relief for Andrew Cuomo and many others was that would-be suicide bomber Akayed Ullah failed in his attempt to bring carnage to a rush-hour transport hub, reported Sky News (UK).

It is evident though from the security camera footage of the moment of detonation that the 27-year-old's attack had the potential to cause much greater damage. That it did not is a blessing.

But what happened in that passageway beneath the Port Authority Bus Terminal is indeed the nightmare scenario that New York or London or any major city confronts on a daily basis.

That Ullah was able to carry his apparently homemade pipe bomb into a crowded metro system with such apparent ease and then set it off is causing alarm and raising questions.

The Port Authority terminal is used by a quarter of a million people every day. Like public transport stations around the world, by necessity, it is designed to facilitate free movement of the commuter masses.

Is there any way you can do that and guarantee watertight security?
Because of the sheer numbers of users, security experts say it would be impractical to install airport-type screening on the New York Subway, the Paris Metro or the London Underground.

It is evident from Ullah's effort that, even when there is security camera coverage of relevant areas of stations, stopping an attacker in the act is not always possible.

So cities like New York rely heavily on the eyes and ears of the public - the "see something, say something" approach that has undoubtedly saved lives over the years.

The intelligence services play a major role too in tracking would-be attackers but we know they are stretched. The IRA threat after the Brighton bombing reminds us, they have to be lucky every time, the terrorist has to be lucky once.

We have seen that those terrorists do not have to go to the lengths of building a bomb. They can use a car or a van to wreak the havoc they seek.

The public then is faced with that risk as a fact of life and with the front line of helping tackle it.

In the past, Donald Trump has been quick to criticise cities for how they handle such atrocities. He was noticeably less hasty tweet after this attempted attack.

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