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Subway, LIRR security ramped up after bombings

The New York National Guard Joint Task Force

The New York National Guard Joint Task Force Empire Shield and MTA police watch the main gate at the LIRR station in Penn Station as thousands of passengers stream by. (March 29, 2010) Credit: Craig Ruttle

Within minutes of the deadly subway bombings in Moscow, officials in New York City and Long Island took steps to secure one of the world's largest transit systems and among the country's largest railroads respectively.

New York City police officials extended the overnight tour of transit police, which normally ends at 8 a.m., to well into the rush hour to keep additional officers on duty in the subways, said Paul Browne, the NYPD's top spokesman.

As part of the beefed up security, primarily in Manhattan, after the terror attack in Russia, Browne said the NYPD also posted units of its heavily armed Hercules Teams in transit hubs such as Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal and other key points. The Hercules units have specially trained helmeted officers with tougher body armor and submachine guns.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the police said the intensified security was a precaution after the Moscow attacks, not a response to a specific threat.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement the "attacks by suicide bombers in Moscow are despicable acts of terrorism that only strengthen our resolve to defeat the forces of fear and hatred. All New Yorkers - including more than a quarter-million with Russian roots - join in condemning these barbaric attacks."

For the time being, there will be an "increased police presence" as a measure of extra security, MTA police spokesman Jeremy Soffin said after two suicide bombers killed nearly 40 people in rush-hour explosions in Moscow yesterday morning. He declined to elaborate.

Jennifer Kamb, 29, of Centereach, said normally on her commute she rarely sees a heavy security presence.

"They're everywhere today," Kamb said of the additional officers in an around the subway "I don't usually see this many cops in here . . . I'm just hoping nothing happens."

An MTA source said the MTA is not aware of any specific threat to the agency. The MTA oversees public transportation on buses, subways and suburban trains and through tunnels and over bridges in New York City.

With Keith Wagstaff

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