FBI hunts Boston Marathon bombers

BLOODY PATRIOTS’ DAY::Suspects and a motive are being sought in the blasts that turned a Massachusetts holiday and a premier sporting event into a tragedy

AP, BOSTON

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 - Page 1

The FBI’s investigation into the bombings at the Boston Marathon was in full swing yesterday, with authorities serving a warrant on a suburban Boston home and appealing for any private video, audio and still images of the blasts that killed three people and wounded more than 140.

Officials said no one had claimed responsibility for the bombings on one of the city’s most famous civic holidays, Patriots’ Day, but the blasts that left the streets spattered with blood and glass raised fears of a terrorist attack.

US President Barack Obama was careful not to use the words “terror” or “terrorism” as he spoke at the White House on Monday after the deadly bombings, but an administration official said the bombings were being treated as an act of terrorism.

“We will find out who did this. We’ll find out why they did this,” the president said. “Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice.”

A European security official yesterday said initial evidence indicates that the attacks were not the work of suicide bombers.

“So far, investigators believe it was not the work of suicide bombers, but it is still too early to rule it out completely,” said the official, who spoke from the US on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the US investigation.

The Pakistani Taliban, which has threatened attacks in the US because of its support for the Pakistani government, yesterday denied any role in the marathon bombings.

The fiery explosions took place about 10 seconds and about 90m apart, knocking spectators and at least one runner off their feet, shattering windows and sending dense plumes of smoke rising over the street and through the fluttering national flags lining the route.

Blood stained the pavement, and huge shards were missing from windowpanes as high as three stories. Victims suffered broken bones, shrapnel wounds and ruptured eardrums.

Roupen Bastajian, a state trooper from Smithfield, Rhode Island, had just finished the race when he heard the explosions.

“I started running toward the blast. And there were people all over the floor,” he said. “We started grabbing tourniquets and started tying legs. A lot of people amputated … At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing.”

At Massachusetts General Hospital, Alasdair Conn, chief of emergency services, said: “This is something I’ve never seen in my 25 years here ... this amount of carnage in the civilian population. This is what we expect from war.”

As many as two unexploded bombs were found near the end of the 42.16km course as part of what appeared to be a well-coordinated attack, but they were safely disarmed, according to a senior US intelligence official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation.

WBZ-TV reported late on Monday that law enforcement officers were searching an apartment in the Boston suburb of Revere. Massachusetts State Police confirmed that a search warrant related to the investigation into the explosions was served on Monday night in Revere, but provided no further details.

Some investigators were seen leaving the Revere house early yesterday carrying brown paper bags, plastic trash bags and a duffel bag.

Police said three people were killed. An eight-year-old boy was among the dead, according to a person who talked to a friend of the family and spoke on condition of anonymity. The person said the boy’s mother and sister were also injured as they waited for his father to finish the race.

Hospitals reported at least 144 people injured, at least 17 of them critically. At least eight children were being treated at hospitals.

The Boston Marathon is one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious races and about 23,000 runners participated. The race honored the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting with a special mile marker in Monday’s race.

A few kilometers away from the finish line and around the same time, a fire broke out at the John F. Kennedy Library. The police commissioner said that it might have been caused by an incendiary device, but that it was not clear whether it was related to the bombings.

The first explosion occurred on the north side of Boylston Street, just before the finish line, and some people initially thought it was a celebratory cannon blast.

When the second bomb went off, spectators’ cheers turned to screams. As sirens blared, emergency workers and National Guardsmen who had been assigned to the race for crowd control began climbing over and tearing down temporary fences to get to the blast site.

The bombings occurred about four hours into the race and two hours after the men’s winner crossed the finish line. By that point, more than 17,000 of the athletes had finished the marathon, but thousands more were still running.

The attack may have been timed for maximum carnage: The four-hour mark is typically a crowded time near the finish line because of the slow-but-steady recreational runners completing the race and because of all the friends and relatives clustered around to cheer them on.