News Column

Boston Locked Down in Massive Manhunt

April 19, 2013

US law enforcement officers were conducting a manhunt Friday for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings after his brother and alleged accomplice was slain in an overnight shootout with police.

Investigators were searching "door-to-door, street-to-street" in Watertown, Massachusetts, in the hunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and had searched about 60 to 70 per cent of the homes so far, State Police Colonel Timothy Alben said.

A lockdown that had later been expanded from Watertown to "all of Boston" and adjoining communities remained in place. No apprehensions had been made, Alben said.

All public transit services were suspended, streets were mostly deserted and police told residents to "shelter in place" and not unlock their doors for anyone except uniformed law enforcement officers. Many business were closed.

Tsarnaev was considered armed and dangerous. He was identified as the man in the white baseball cap in surveillance video and photos from Monday's bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line, where three people were killed and 176 wounded.

His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, identified as the man in a black cap in the video images, died at a Boston hospital after a firefight early Friday in Watertown. Doctors said he suffered both gunshot and blast wounds.

"Our number one priority is with these neighbourhoods here in Watertown and making them safe and finding this individual," Alben said. "That's what we are committed to. We need more time. We are making significant progress up there. It may take hours to do this."

A police explosives removal squad was at the brothers' family home in Cambridge, where residents in the surrounding neighbourhood were evacuated.

Officers planned to conduct a "controlled explosion" "out of an abundance of caution" to protect officers conducting a search of a building, Alben said.

US President Barack Obama was briefed overnight and gathered with his national security team Friday morning to follow the manhunt from the White House situation room, a senior aide said.

Relatives of the men identified them as ethnic Chechens, who had lived in the United States for years. US media reported the younger brother was a naturalized US citizen.

"Turn yourself in!" Ruslan Tsarni told his nephew in comments broadcast on television. "Ask for forgiveness from the victim and the injured."

"He put shame on the Tsarni family, on the entire Chechen ethnicity," Tsarni said outside his home in Montgomery Village, Maryland, outside Washington.

"I'm ready to kneel in front of [the families and the injured], seeking their forgiveness on behalf of my family," he said.

Kerry refused to speculate Friday about ties between the Boston Marathon suspects and Chechen separatists.

"Terror is terror, and this underscores the importance of all of us maintaining vigilance and cooperating together internationally," Kerry said in Washington.

"Terror anywhere in the world against any country is unacceptable," he said, "and we need to continue to stand up and fight against it in the way that we are."

The manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev followed a night of chaos around Boston. A police officer was fatally shot Thursday night on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge, and hours later, the firefight broke out in Watertown, just west of the city.

Hours after police Thursday released images of the suspects from the marathon, the brothers were suspected of having carjacked a sports utility vehicle (SUV) in Watertown.

"There was an exchange of fire between police and two suspects in this SUV," a police officer said. "Several explosive devices were released from the vehicle at police. One suspect was arrested, and another fled."

One police officer was seriously wounded in the gunfight with the suspects.

The campus police officer was shot several times on the grounds of the university late Thursday and died later at a nearby hospital.

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Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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