0214 GMT January 18, 2021
The man, reportedly an Uzbek national, struck in broad daylight just blocks from the 9/11 Memorial, in an upscale neighborhood on the West Side of Lower Manhattan, close to schools as children and their parents geared up to celebrate Halloween, AFP reported.
Television footage showed the mangled wreckage of the pickup truck, bicycles crushed to smithereens and bodies wrapped in sheets and lying on the ground.
Tuesday's truck rampage bore similarities to attacks in Europe that have been claimed by the Daesh group, but the terrorist group has yet to do so in this case and authorities have not ascribed a motive, nor publicly identified the attacker.
"This was an act of terror and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
"An investigation is under way to get all the facts."
Five of the eight killed were Argentine nationals, part of a group visiting New York from the city of Rosario for a school reunion, the Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires said.
Brussels said a Belgian woman on a trip with her mother and sister was also killed.
Eleven people, including an Argentine and three Belgians, were also wounded.
Law enforcement sources identified the perpetrator as Sayfullo Saipov, 29. He was arrested in Missouri on a traffic violation last year.
The Uzbek citizen living in Tampa, Florida had recently been staying in New Jersey, where the truck was rented, reports said.
Uzbekistan's president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, on Wednesday offered to help US authorities in their investigation, but did not officially confirm the identity or nationality of the attacker.
President Donald Trump denounced the attacker as "very sick" and a "deranged person."
Confronting what could be the most serious terror-related incident since taking power less than a year ago, the Republican commander-in-chief used it to forward his political agenda, announcing that he had ordered the Department of Homeland Security to step up his "extreme vetting program" on foreign travelers to the country.
The United States "must not" allow Daesh terrorists to "return, or enter" the country after being defeated overseas, Trump said, albeit as New York officials declined to link the assailant to a specific group.
Police said the attacker drove a rented Home Depot pickup down a bike and pedestrian lane, where tourists and New Yorkers were out enjoying brilliant fall sunshine, at 3:05 pm (1905 GMT), before colliding with a school bus, wounding two adults and two children.
The suspect then exited the vehicle brandishing weapons that were subsequently identified as a paintball gun and pellet gun, before being shot in the abdomen by a police officer and taken into custody, police said.
Six of the victims were men who died on the spot, and two others pronounced dead in hospital. Eleven other people were taken to hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries, officials said.
European allies and Mexico's president condemned the attack. "Together we will defeat the evil of terrorism," said British Prime Minister Theresa May. French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: "Our fight for freedom unites us more than ever."
Iran has also condemned the attack, offering condolences to the families of the victims.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the terrorist groups’ tactic of attacking and massacring defenseless civilians on the streets and public venues was indicative of the terrorists’ ruthlessness and brutality, Press TV reported
The FBI and New York police urged members of the public to come forward with any information that could assist the investigation, which the mayor said preliminary information suggested was a lone wolf assault.