Terror in US: Shell-shocked nation looks for answers (Fifth Lead)

Washington/Boston, April 16 (IANS) A shell-shocked America Tuesday looked for answers in the horrific twin bomb blasts at Boston marathon finishing line, leaving three people dead and at least 144 others injured as terror returned to the country after 11 years.

Although President Barack Obama, while pledging that those responsible would feel the “full weight of justice”, stopped short of calling Monday’s strike on the world’s oldest annual marathon, the first such major incident since 9/11, as an act of terror, his administration is clearly dealing with it as one.

“Any event with multiple explosive devices is clearly an act of terror and will be approached as an act of terror,” a White House official was quoted by CNN.

“However, we don’t yet know who carried out this attack and a thorough investigation will have to determine whether it was planned and carried out by a terrorist group — foreign or domestic,” he said.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officers investigating the Boston marathon bombings searched an apartment in the Boston suburb of Revere, Massachusetts, late Monday into early Tuesday, according CBS Boston station WBZ-TVs

WBZ said the search lasted nine hours. The Revere Fire Department wrote on its Facebook page it was for “a person of interest”.

Two men were questioned by federal agents in the lobby overnight and handed over their passports before they were allowed to go upstairs, it said.

An eight-year-old boy, one of the three people killed in the explosions at the Boston Marathon Monday has been identified as Martin Richard, The Boston Globe reported.

Local hospitals reported 144 patients were treated for wounds, including at least 17 in critical condition and 25 others in serious condition. At least eight of the wounded are children.

The bombings resulted in at least 10 lost limbs and left doctors picking ball bearings out of victims in the emergency room, CNN reported citing a terrorism expert briefed on the investigation.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken over the investigation and federal law enforcement has been placed on “level one mobilization”, it said citing official sources. According to one official, “that’s equivalent to all hands on deck”.

Two bomb blasts, 12 seconds apart, at 2.50 p.m. Monday afternoon blew out windows, sent plumes of smoke into the sky, and left victims piled on each other in a scene far more reminiscent of a battlefield than a celebrated day in Boston’s Back Bay, the Globe said.

Flags were lowered to half-staff in the American capital of Washington, D.C., as the country mourned with Boston.

The Globe citing sources said authorities had questioned a Saudi national, who was reportedly tackled and held by a bystander after he was seen running from near the scene of the explosion, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

The Saudi man, believed to be a university student in Boston, is cooperating with the FBI and told agents that he was not involved in the explosions, and that he ran only because he was frightened, it said.

Hospital officials cited by the Globe said late last night that tests showed no radiation or biological agents on the victims.

Although many people were wounded by flying shrapnel, it did not appear the bombs had been packed with nails or other fragments to increase the injuries.

Investigators faced an overwhelming crime scene, littered with bags dropped by people fleeing the blasts.

Eyewitnesses to the blasts cited by the Globe reported a sudden shock, followed by unreal scenes of human carnage.

“I saw white smoke and at first I thought it might be a firecracker but it was really loud,” said Megan Raftery, who was standing near the finish in front of the Mandarin hotel with her two young sons, waiting to cheer on her Marathon-running husband.

Seconds later, a second explosion directly across Boylston Street, near the Apple store, shot debris high in the air. And when Raftery looked down she saw that the explosion had blown a man’s leg off, just below the knee.

“You could see stuff just flying,” she was quoted as saying. “I looked across the street and I could see a man on the sidewalk. There was blood and part of his leg was just gone.”

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

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.