Hunting culprits

On the scene in Boston the day after the deadly marathon bombing.
On the scene in Boston the day after the deadly marathon bombing.

A pressure cooker stuffed with gunpowder and shrapnel caused at least one of the blasts at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured 176 others in the worst attack on US soil since September 11, 2001, law enforcement sources said.

Investigators who found pieces of black nylon at the scene suspect the bombs used in Monday’s attack were in dark-colored bags that would have been heavy to carry, FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers said at a news conference today.

DesLauriers said the investigation is in its infancy and “at this time there are no claims of responsibility. The range of suspects and motives remains wide open.”

President Barack Obama, who will travel to Boston on Thursday for a memorial service, called the two bombings at the marathon finish line an “act of terror” and police said parts of central Boston could be closed for days as they investigated the blasts that maimed several people who lost legs above the knee.

“When these kids came in … they were just so badly hurt, just covered with singed hair and in so much pain, it was just gut-wrenching,” said David Mooney, the director of the trauma program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Pulling nails out of a little girl’s flesh is just awful.”

At least 10 people had limbs amputated as a result of their injuries, officials at hospitals said.

The youngest to die was an 8-year-old boy, Martin Richard, who lived in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood. Outside the family’s home, sympathizers created a makeshift memorial of flowers and “Peace” was written in chalk on the sidewalk.

Officials identified a second person killed as Krystle Campbell, 29, of Medford, Massachusetts. She was “the daughter that every father dreams to have,” said Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn, who said he had confirmed the death with Campbell’s father, William Campbell.

“She had a great sense of humor and freckles and red hair that brought her right to her Irish roots,” McGlynn said.

The identity of the third person killed in the attack has not been released by officials.

An early lead in the investigation and an apartment search ended with law enforcement sources saying a Saudi Arabian student injured in the blast was likely to be cleared of suspicion. Neighbours in the man’s apartment complex, who asked not to be identified, said FBI agents took boxes from the building.

No one has been arrested, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told reporters on Tuesday morning.

Later today in Washington, US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said there was no indication that the bomb blasts were part of a broader plot.

Officials in Britain and Spain said the London and Madrid marathons would go ahead on Sunday, but security plans for both races were under review.

At least one bomb and possibly both were built using pressure cookers as the superstructure, black powder or gunpowder as the explosive and ball bearings as additional shrapnel, according to current and former counterterrorism officials briefed on the matter.

The sources, who asked not to be identified, said instructions on how to design such bombs are available on the internet. (Reuters)

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