A suspected attempted bomber left an SUV containing what police called "explosive elements" in Times Square today, as the heart of New York City was packed with theater-goers and tourists.
"This is a bomb. This is a car bomb. A crude device that includes gasoline, propane and is wired together," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.
"There were explosive elements, including powder, gasoline, propane and some kind of electrical wires attached to a clock," Browne said. "No motive has been identified."
Browne said no one was in custody, but police were checking security cameras to see if they could identify a possible suspect.
A mounted police officer noticed a smoking box in the back of the vehicle, a Nissan Pathfinder that was parked in the vicinity of the intersection of 45th Street and 7th Avenue, at around 6:30 p.m., police said.
The New York Police Department's bomb squad was called in, and the back window of the SUV was broken out. Police sent in a robot to determine what was in the vehicle.
While the bomb squad robot was checking out the vehicle, the NYPD quickly blocked off 44th through 48th Streets.
Inside the SUV, investigators found three propane cylinders, two five-gallon jerry cans of gasoline, a canister of powder, electrical components and timing device, police officials said.
There was no high-grade explosive, and the timing device was a clock attached to wires, police said.
Bomb techs from the FBI's New York office were called to the scene to assist the NYPD Bomb Squad in the investigation.
Sources described the device as crude, and said it was more likely an incendiary device than an explosive one, but it was still being investigated late tonight.
The Pathfinder had a Connecticut or unmatched license plate and the vehicle identification number was partially obscured, police said.
Though police on the scene said the motive for the suspected attempted fire-bombing was unknown, but they described the incident as "the real deal."
Shortly after 7:00 o'clock, witnesses told WABC-TV they heard an explosion, then saw smoke coming from the car.
"It was a boom and a puff of smoke," one man said.
"I saw people running, turning tables," Paula Delarrosa said.
A live Web cam feed at 46th Street and Broadway showed the streets had been cleared of pedestrians. A line of police cars blocked one street and officers paced on a sidewalk.
In the hours that followed, Broadway remained empty.
"The police evacuated us," Ruth, a visitor from Philadelphia, said.
"We can't get to our show," said another tourist.
Times Square remained closed as police continued to investigate late Saturday night.
ABC News' Aaron Katersky and Dean Schabner contributed to this report