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Police force frightened tourists off bus

The Daily Telegraph | July 26, 2005

NEW YORK: Heavily armed police swarmed a double-decker bus packed with tourists in Times Square on Sunday.

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In a dramatic sign of the city's edginess since the London transit bombings, police evacuated buildings, shut midtown streets and forced about 60 terrified tourists to march off the double-decker bus, with their hands up, in the heart of Broadway.

Officers in riot gear handcuffed a group of apparently harmless South Asian-looking men with British accents after a jittery tour bus worker reported they seemed suspicious.

The men were forced to kneel on the footpath, with their hands bound behind their backs, in front of the Winter Garden theatre.

"People were really scared," Jill Sully, 29, said. Another passenger said she was "scared out of my mind."

The incident came just days after the New York Police Department stepped up security in the wake of the London attacks and began searching bags in the subway.

The five men in Sunday's incident were quickly freed after police determined they were just tourists.

"We just want to clear our heads of the whole thing," one of the men told New York's Daily News.

"We were humiliated enough," he said.

"We just want to go," added one of the other men.

The scare unfolded about 11.30am after a worker for a Gray Line sightseeing bus told the driver some of the passengers appeared suspicious.

"I was definitely frightened from the beginning," said the driver, Mohammed Stout, 43.

"That's human nature."

A Gray Line dispatcher called 911 and told police the men had backpacks and their pockets were "stuffed" -- a possible warning sign of suicide bombers, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.

Police then cordoned off Broadway to stop the vehicle.

 

 


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