The attacker struck just a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center memorial, running over afternoon riders on the path before reaching a road and ploughing into a school bus.
He then jumped out of the truck wielding what turned out to be a pellet gun, and a paintball gun. He was chased and shot in the stomach by a police officer but survived and was arrested.
The suspect has been identified as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, 29, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, who arrived in the US in 2010. He has a Florida driver's license but was reportedly living in Paterson, New Jersey, with family, sources told local media.
US media, citing police sources, said that Saipov left a note in the truck claiming he committed the attack on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
A group of five friends from Argentina were among those killed, the country's foreign ministry has said. The compatriots were celebrating the 30th anniversary of their graduation from Polytechnic College in the city of Rosario in central Argentina.
|Sayfullo Saipov Credit: @NYScanner/Twitter|
President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter: "Looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!"
Mr Trump blamed the attack on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant which has encouraged its followers to use vehicles to mow people down. The UK, France and Germany have all seen deadly vehicle attacks in the recent past.
The US president added: "We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!"
A White House official said Mr Trump had been fully briefed by his chief of staff John Kelly and was being "continually updated".
Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "appalled by this cowardly attack, my thoughts are with all affected. Together we will defeat the evil of terrorism".
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