Man suffers burns after flaming liquid thrown at him on New York subway

A man had a cup of flaming liquid thrown at him, setting his clothing on fire, in a random attack on the New York subway, police say.

The incident happened in lower Manhattan on Saturday afternoon and saw the man's shirt set ablaze, causing burn injuries on about a third of his body.

The 23-year-old was recovering in hospital and the suspect was taken into custody, police said.

Speaking to the New York Post, the victim said he shielded his fiancee and cousin from the burning liquid and he slapped himself to put out the flames.

He said the attacker had a cup and "made fire and he threw it all".

The suspect, a 49-year-old man, was arrested a short time later after police tracked a phone he allegedly stole from another subway rider to his location, authorities said.

Authorities also charged the man in connection with a similar fiery assault on the subway in February.

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The New York City subway serves about three million people a day, and while violent crime is rare there have been some high profile incidents this year.

They include the death of a man who was pushed onto the tracks in East Harlem in March.