Panic and gunfire as vehicle hits pedestrians in New York

At least eight people have been killed in a vehicle attack and shooting near the 9/11 memorial site in New York.

Witnesses told local media a vehicle drove down a popular bike path and struck pedestrians and cyclists before a lone-male jumped out and started shooting.

At least 15 people were hit by the van, before it collided with a school-bus injuring two adults and two children.

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Six men were declared dead at the scene, with two people pronounced dead at hospital. One of the victims is confirmed to be a Belgian national.

At least two of the bikes hit by the van has the Blazing Saddles hire company logo on the front, making it likely that some victims could be tourists.

The bike hire company has not yet made a statement.

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Eleven people have been left with serious injuries, but New York police commissioner James O'Neill said there may be more walking-wounded.

Law enforcement sources told Sky News that the van was driven more than 10 blocks from Houston Street down to Chambers Street along the west side highway on a busy bike path.

The area - which is a a few blocks north of the 9/11 memorial site where the World Trade Center once stood - is close to both a community college and a high school.

Children were evacuated from schools shortly after the attack.

When the vehicle struck a pole near Chambers Street, officers and witnesses said the man got out and started screaming and shooting.

Confirming that the incident was an act of terrorism, New York mayor Bill de Blasio called the attack "a cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians".

Sky News US Correspondent Hannah Thomas-Peter who is in Washington said police sources are saying some of those injured may have been unable to get out of the way because they were wearing headphones while cycling.

She said: "It's a very common thing to do in New York City, and it tells me that some of those victims are potentially very young indeed. School finishes at 2.30pm, and the attack happened at 3.05pm."

The man has been identified as Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old from Tampa, Florida.

Police confirmed that he made a statement as he got out of the vehicle, but would not confirm what that was.

Fox News has reported unverified claims that he may have shouted "Allahu Akbar."

Photos from the scene showed a badly damaged Home Depot rental pickup truck in the middle of the road.

A 14-year-old student from the nearby Stuyvesant High School told the New York Post: "What happened was there was a car crash… he came out of one of the cars. He had two guns.

"He was running around Chambers and somebody started to chase him.

"I heard four to six gunshots - everybody starts running."

An Uber passenger who was riding along the West Side Highway near the World Trade Center says he saw several bleeding people following the incident.

Police have now confirmed that Saipov was armed with a paintball gun and a pellet gun.

He was shot by police in the abdomen, and is now under arrest in hospital. He is expected to live.

NYPD confirmed that they were not looking for anyone else.

The President tweeted: "In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!"

In a later statement, Donald Trump said his "thoughts and prayers" were with the victims and their families, thanking the first responders who stopped the suspect and gave immediate aid to victims.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the incident a "lone wolf" attack, and said there was "no evidence of a wider plot".

He urged New Yorkers to "go about their business" and said the increase of police in tunnels and airports was "due to extra vigilance not because there is an ongoing threat".

The incident appeared to have echoes of the London Bridge terror attack in June - when Islamic State terrorists used a Hertz rental van hired from a B&Q hardware store to mow down pedestrians before stabbing a number of victims nearby.

The Foreign Office is standing by to assist any Britons affected by the atrocity.