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by on May 18, 2018
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NEW YORK, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Following terror attacks over the weekend, barricades were up and access gates down on Tuesday for a beefed up and extended ring of security around UN Headquarters during this year's annual gathering of world leaders for the General Debate of the UN General Assembly.

 

Local officials pledged even heavier security around the world body's campus in the Midtown East area of Manhattan following bombings Saturday in Seaside Park in the adjacent U.S. state of New Jersey and later that night on New York City's West Side.

 

The bombings put enormous pressure on the city's law enforcement as about 140 heads of state or government are gathering for this week's event at the United Nations.

 

"We're going to have more security personnel than ever assembled over this next week during the UN General Assembly," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in interviews with CNN on Monday morning.

 

City authorities said they had bolstered an already heavy security force with 1,000 more uniformed police officers and National Guard members.

 

The security personnel were deployed elsewhere around Midtown Manhattan in addition to near the world body's headquarters, running from 42nd to 48th streets along First Avenue.

 

A suspect, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, Ahmad Khan Rahami, was arrested Monday in New Jersey after a shootout with police.

 

The 28-year-old Afghanistan-born American was linked to both the blast that injured 29 people in the bustling Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea Saturday night and the pipe bombing in Seaside Park, New Jersey.

 

Security around the UN complex not only extends into the adjacent East River but into the air above. A mini-no-fly zone was imposed by aviation authorities for the airspace surrounding the nearly-seven hectare complex.

 

U.S. Coast Guard cutters and outboard motor-powered runabouts joined New York City Police Department (NYPD) vessels intercepting, turning around, diverting or escorting commercial maritime traffic on the river.

 

On land checkpoints, male and female agents and officers from law enforcement agencies of the U.S. government, New York State and the city -- many awkwardly wearing flak vests over their civilian clothes -- helped guard some checkpoints. But, dark blue-clad NYPD officers in their bulky flak vests brandishing long automatic weapons dominated the scene.

 

Checkpoints were mostly a city block away from the UN headquarters.

 

For locals and the few businesses inside the outer security perimeter, proof of residency or course of business -- sometimes an escort is required -- must be proved before being allowed to pass.

 

A block away from UN headquarters, at 42nd Street, a young woman caught in the security encirclement asked a police officer at a checkpoint, "How can I cross Second Avenue?"

 

"Go back to 43rd Street," he replied, pointing the track she had just trod in an indication of the frustrations facing pedestrians, echoed for drivers caught in traffic on East Side sidewalks, streets and avenues. Still, walking at times seemed the speediest way to travel.

 

On 42nd Street, a Midtown two-way thoroughfare, and Second Avenue, a one way-southbound artery, one lane of traffic was reserved on each for parades of VIP motorcades.

 

A Subway sandwich shop and a Dunkin Donuts near UN headquarters did a land-rush business of customers taking away their purchases, increased by security officers, many of whom wore civilian clothes but sporting tell-tale radio earpieces.

 

The Chelsea Bagel Tudor City shop on the Second Avenue edge of the quiet Tudor City enclave across from the United Nations, was populated with a more static civilian clientele, apparently leisurely enjoying the traditional New York coffee and bagel watching the passing scene.

 

"Business has increased tremendously," said Inez Vera, reveling in the foreign delegates. She's a business associate at UN Plaza Pharmacy, a heavily stocked but tidy and cramped store near the coffee and bagel shop, just a block from the UN headquarters.

 

"Many of them come here and purchase items that they don't have in their country," she said of the increased clientele. "They buy things in bulk, so that is an increase to our business, which is great."

 

However, that wasn't all Vera liked about what most people see as the turmoil and inconvenience of the circus surrounding the all-too-serious General Debate.

 

"The security in the area is fantastic," she said. "There are police cars and the black cars with dark windows, police cars, there are even police dogs. They are all over."

 

"They (security officers) are very alert which makes you feel safe," Vera said. "Thank God. Unfortunately we have to live like this in this type of world."

 

"We take our hats off to them," she said. "We enjoy meeting, interacting with different people. They tell us what they use this product for and of course for us it is a business and personal role and we learn from that."

 

A few blocks away, demonstrators representing a variety of groups packed Dag Hammarskjold Plaza across from the UN campus, running a long block on East 47th Street between First and Second avenues. Each group was encircled by metal barricades -- separating potential rival groups -- and phalanxes of police.

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