Boston shut down amid massive manhunt

Washington, April 19 (IANS) Boston, one of the oldest cities in the US and an international centre of higher education, was Friday in an unprecedented state of lockdown amidst a massive manhunt for a Boston Marathon bombings suspect on the loose.

Mass transit was cancelled, schools and business closed and hundreds of thousands of residents ordered to stay indoors as the manhunt began after one suspect was killed after a wild car chase Thursday night and the other escaped.

The two suspects are brothers, authorities said, and are believed to have lived in the US with their family for several years.

Residents of Boston, Watertown, Newton, Waltham and other suburbs were asked to stay inside, with their doors locked.

Universities and schools announced they would close for the day, and businesses were instructed not to open. Streets were ghostly quiet, media reports said.

Police officers in full body armour, carrying automatic weapons, flooded the area, travelling the streets in convoys and going door-to-door to track the suspect down.

Boston’s public transit authority sent city buses to Watertown to evacuate residents while bomb experts combed the surroundings for possible explosives.

Harvard University and Harvard Kennedy School are among the institutions closed.

In a note to students, John A. Haigh, executive dean of HKS, said with one suspect still at large, “individuals in Watertown, Cambridge, Belmont and other surrounding towns are being asked to stay inside for safety reasons”.

“Given this circumstance, the University has closed. The HKS buildings are closed so no one but security personnel will be admitted,” he wrote.

“In consideration of the manhunt that is underway, we are asking members of the Harvard community to remain home from work and classes today,” wrote Katie Lapp, executive vice president in another alert to students.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

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