Massive manhunt on amid Boston shutdown (Lead, Changing dateline)

Boston, April 19 (IANS) Amidst an unprecedented lockdown in Boston, one of the oldest cities in the US and an international centre of higher education, police are engaged in a massive manhunt for a Boston Marathon bombings suspect on the loose.

The suspects were identified as two brothers who migrated with their family several years ago from the southern Russian republic of Chechnya.

The older brother identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in an overnight shootout with police after a wild car chase. He is the man described by the FBI as the black-capped suspect No.1 in the terror attacks that killed three and wounded 180.

His younger brother, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, apparently escaped — leading police to throw a huge dragnet around the region. Law enforcement officials said they believe he may be strapped with explosives.

As 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, mass transit was cancelled.

Universities, schools and businesses were closed and hundreds of thousands of residents of Boston, Watertown, Newton, Waltham and other suburbs were asked to stay inside, with their doors locked. Streets were ghostly quiet.

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

The manhunt was triggered Thursday night after the brothers apparently robbed a 7-Eleven convenience store on or near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus in Cambridge, about 10.20 p.m.

They allegedly shot the Sean Collier, a 26-year-old MIT campus police officer, as he sat in his car. Collier, of Somerville, joined the force in January 2012 after working as a civilian for the Somerville Police Department, the Washington Post reported.

Soon after the shooting, the brothers allegedly carjacked a Mercedes SUV from Third Street in Cambridge, the Post said citing officials.

They forced the driver of the car to stop at several bank machines to withdraw money, and succeeded in taking $800 from one location.

The driver, who was released unharmed on Memorial Drive, told police that the brothers had bragged to him that they were the marathon bombers, the Post said citing law enforcement authorities.

Police were trying to activate the tracking device on the stolen Mercedes when other patrol officers spotted the vehicle in nearby Watertown, about 13 km west of Boston, and tried to do a traffic stop, according to Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio.

As police picked up the chase, the car’s occupants threw explosives out the windows and shot at officers, CNN said.

Officers fired back, wounding Tamerlan Tsarnaev. He later died at Beth Israel Hospital, the channel said citing a source.

Police believe the brothers are the same men pictured in images released Thursday by the FBI as suspects in the marathon bombing that killed three people Monday.

The men are shown in the images walking together near the marathon finish line.

Meanwhile, police said Sunil Tripathi, a 22-year-old Brown University student of Indian origin, who went missing mysteriously March 16, was not a suspect in the Boston marathon bombings.

Tripathi was first suggested as a suspect for the bombings on Reddit, then later by the Twitter account of Kami Mattioli, who knew the college student when he was in high school, the Inquisitr, a news website reported.

But the reports of Tripathi’s involvement in the bombings turned out to be false after the police identified the suspects as the two brothers from Chechnya.

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