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IED in backpack at N.J. Elizabeth Train Station explodes

By Andrew V. Pestano

ELIZABETH, N.J., Sept. 19 (UPI) -- A backpack that officials said held improvised explosive devices exploded early Monday in New Jersey's Elizabeth Train Station while a police robot investigated the suspicious package, local officials said.

Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said the bomb squad robot was "cutting into the device when it exploded" shortly before 1 a.m. The explosion was not a controlled blast.

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Bomb technicians from the FBI, Union County and New Jersey State Police responded to the scene. One of five devices inside the backpack exploded.

"In the course of rendering one of the devices safe, it detonated," the FBI said in a statement. "There are no injuries and law enforcement personnel are at the scene processing evidence. We will continue to provide additional information once the area has been cleared."

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Two men discovered the backpack in the trash at around 8 p.m. on Sunday. The men took it "because they thought it was of some value," Bollwage said. The pair walked briefly but dropped the package and notified police when they saw wires and pipes, Bollwage added.

The backpack was originally found in a trash can about 300 feet outside the door of Wally's Pub near the train station.

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"If that pub was crowded and there was a lot of people there, it could have severely injured, killed and maimed many, many people," Bollwage said. "I'm not willing to admit Elizabeth is a terror target ... because of the location, it's very possible someone was trying to get rid of package as opposed to set it off."

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It is not clear if the explosion is connected to the Saturday explosions in New Jersey's Seaside Park by a pipe bomb device or in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood in which 29 people were injured.

Several law enforcement officials are concerned that an active terrorism cell with multiple players could be operating in the New York-New Jersey area, NBC News reported.

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