Boston: In a major terror strike on the United States of America, two explosions rocked the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing at least three people and injuring over 144 others. Over 15 people were critically injured. The bombs exploded in the crowded streets near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday. Major US cities including New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco have been put on high alert following the multiple terror attacks and cell phone services have been shut down in Boston to prevent remote detonations of any more possible bombs.
The Pakistani Taliban have denied any role in the bombings. The group's spokesman, Ahsanullah Ahsan, denied involvement in a telephone call with The Associated Press on Tuesday. He spoke from an undisclosed location.
Authorities are looking for a dark skinned or black person with a black backpack and people in Boston have been asked to be vigilant. Investigators are monitoring CCTV footage and footage captured by TV channels. The FBI has taken charge of investigations of these bombings. FBI say they are beginning criminal investigations but it could possibly evolve into a terror investigation. Officials in Washington said there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
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 Monday night in Revere but provided no further details.
A senior US intelligence official said two other explosive devices were found near the marathon finish line. The fiery twin blasts took place about 10 seconds and about 100 yards 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 window panes as high as three stories.
Addressing the country, US President Barack Obama vowed to hunt down and prosecute the perpetrators of the blasts. "I send my deepest thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims. We will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable. I have directed the federal government to increase security around the US as necessary after Boston explosions," said Obama.
A few miles 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 may have been caused by an incendiary device but that it was not clear whether it was related to the bombings.
Some 23,000 runners took part in the 26.2-mile (42-kilometer) race. The fiery twin blasts took place about 10 seconds and about 100 yards 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 window panes as high as three stories.
"They just started bringing people in with no limbs," said runner Tim Davey of Richmond, Va. He said he and his wife, Lisa, tried to shield their children's eyes from the gruesome scene inside a medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners, but "they saw a lot."
"They just kept filling up with more and more casualties," Lisa Davey said. "Most everybody was conscious. They were very dazed."
Police said three people were killed. An 8-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.
Hospitals reported at least 144 people injured, at least 15 of them critically. The victims' injuries included broken bones, shrapnel wounds and ruptured eardrums.
At Massachusetts General Hospital, Alisdair 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."
Mobile phone service was shut down in the Boston area to prevent any possible remote detonations of explosives, a law enforcement official said. The official was speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis asked people to stay indoors or go back to their hotel rooms and avoid crowds as bomb squads checked parcels and bags left along the race route. About an hour after the explosions the Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice to pilots that a no-fly zone with a 3.5-mile radius has been created over 811 Boylston Street. The zone was later reduced in a subsequent notice to a 2.3-mile radius. The zone is limited to flights under 3,000 feet in altitude, which is lower than most airliners would fly except when taking off or landing.
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.
Roupen Bastajian, a 35-year-old state trooper from Smithfield, RI, had just finished the race when they put the heat blanket wrap on him and he heard the first blast. "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."
A Boston police officer was wheeled from the course with a leg injury that was bleeding. "There are a lot of people down," said one man, whose bib No. 17528 identified him as Frank Deruyter of North Carolina. He was not injured, but marathon workers were carrying one woman, who did not appear to be a runner, to the medical area as blood gushed from her leg.
Smoke rose from the blasts, fluttering through the national flags lining the route of the world's oldest and most prestigious marathon. TV helicopter footage showed blood staining the pavement in the popular shopping and tourist area known as the Back Bay.
"There are people who are really, really bloody," said Laura McLean, a runner from Toronto, who was in the medical tent being treated for dehydration when she was pulled out to make room for victims of the explosions. "They were pulling them into the medical tent."
Runners who had not finished the race were diverted straight down Commonwealth Avenue and into a family meeting area, according to an emergency plan that had been in place.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the explosions by Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco. Obama also told Mayor Tom Menino and Governor Deval Patrick that his administration would provide whatever support was needed, the White House said.
Vice President Joe Biden was on a conference call with gun control activists when staffers turned on televisions in his office Monday to view coverage of the explosions. Biden said during the call that his prayers were with those who suffered injuries.
"Apparently there has been a bombing," Biden said. "I don't know any of the details of what caused it, who did it. I don't think it exists yet. But our prayers are with those people in Boston who suffered injury."
Shortly after the explosions, Secret Service shut down Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House, cordoning off the area with yellow police tape. Several Secret Service patrol cars also blocked off the entry points to the road.
The White House was not on lockdown and tourists and other onlookers were still able to be in the park across the street from the executive mansion.
Attorney General Eric Holder directed the full resources of the Justice Department be deployed to investigate and a department official said Holder has spoken with FBI Director Robert Mueller. The official said the US attorney for Massachusetts's office was coordinating the Justice Department's response with the FBI and other federal, state and local law enforcement authorities.
In Britain, police said they were reviewing security plans for Sunday's London Marathon, the next major international marathon. Thousands of people compete in the London Marathon every year, thronging the city's streets. London is also considered a top target for international terrorists.
A London Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed Monday that police are working with marathon officials to review security plans for Sunday's event. The London race's chief executive, Nick Bitel, expressed shock and sadness about the situation in Boston, saying "it is a very sad day for athletics and for our friends in marathon running."
In New York City, police spokesman Paul Browne said that critical response teams are deployed around the city. Officials were stepping up security at hotels and other prominent locations.
Runners who had not finished the Boston race were diverted straight down Commonwealth Avenue and into a family meeting area, according to an emergency plan that had been in place.
The nearby Prudential Tower, the city's second-tallest building with an upscale shopping mall on the ground, was evacuated, along with the luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel, according to media reports.
Race day got started with 26 seconds of silence in honor of the victims of the December school massacre in Connecticut. A little more than 2 hours later, the lead runners passed the Mile 26 marker, which was decorated with the Newtown, Connecticut, seal and dedicated to the memory of those killed there.
The annual marathon attracts more than 500,000 spectators. It takes place on Patriot's Day, a state holiday that celebrates the evacuation of Boston by the British in the American Revolution.
Spectator Cherie Falgoust was waiting for her husband, who was running the race.
"I was expecting my husband any minute," she said. "I don't know what this building is ... it just blew. Just a big bomb, a loud boom, and then glass everywhere. Something hit my head. I don't know what it was. I just ducked."
One of Boston's biggest annual events, the race winds up near Copley Square, not far from the landmark Prudential Center and the Boston Public Library. It is held on Patriots Day, which commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution, at Concord and Lexington in 1775.
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(With additional information from Associated Press)Tweets from @syflusne/massachusetts