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AMERICAS > Marathon bomb suspect eludes police, hunt paralyzes Boston

BOSTON - Reuters

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This combination of photos provided on Friday, April 19, 2013 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, left, and the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, right, shows a suspect that officials have identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, being sought by police in connection with Monday's Boston Marathon bombings. AP PHOTO

This combination of photos provided on Friday, April 19, 2013 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, left, and the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, right, shows a suspect that officials have identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, being sought by police in connection with Monday's Boston Marathon bombings. AP PHOTO

Black Hawk helicopters and heavily armed police descended on a Boston suburb April 19 in a massive search for an ethnic Chechen suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings, hours after his brother was killed by police in a late-night shootout.

The normally traffic-clogged streets of Boston were empty as the city went into virtual lockdown after a bloody night of shooting and explosions. Public transport was suspended, air space restricted and famous universities, including Harvard and MIT, closed after police ordered residents to remain at home.

Officials identified the fugitive as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and the dead man as his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who was killed Thursday night in the working class suburb of Watertown. 

Details emerged on April 19 about the brothers, including their origins in the predominantly Muslim regions of Russia's Caucasus, which have experienced two decades of violence since the fall of the Soviet Union. 

The fugitive described himself on a social network as a minority from a region that includes Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia.

Monday's bombing on the finish line of the world-famous Boston Marathon, which killed three people and injured 176, was described by President Barack Obama as "an act of terrorism." It was the worst such attack on U.S. soil since the plane hijackings of Sept. 11, 2001.

Door-to-door search

The FBI said the twin blasts were caused by bombs in pressure cookers and carried in backpacks that were left near the marathon finish line as thousands of spectators gathered.
 

FBI releases photos of two Boston bomb suspects

Authorities cordoned off a section of the suburb of Watertown and told residents not to leave their homes or answer the door as officers in combat gear scoured a 20-block area for the missing man, who was described as armed and dangerous.

 "We are progressing through this neighborhood, going door-to-door, street-to-street," Massachusetts State Police Colonel Timothy Alben said.

 SWAT teams moved through in formation, leaving an officer behind to ensure that searched homes remain secure, a law enforcement official said.

Police expanded their search to Dartmouth, Massachusetts where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was enrolled as a student at the University of Massachusetts. The school was closed April 19. 

Chechen leader blames US

The events elicited a response from Moscow condemning terrorism and from the Russian-installed leader of Chechnya, who criticized police in Boston for killing an ethnic Chechen and blamed the violence on his upbringing in the United States. 

"They grew up and studied in the United States and their attitudes and beliefs were formed there," Ramzan Kadyrov said in comments posted online. "Any attempt to make a connection between Chechnya and the Tsarnaevs is in vain." 

The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the biggest mosque in the area, said in a statement that "after the terrible and sad events of last night, the criminal of the bombings on the loose" it was shutting its doors until further notice.
 
Internet postings

The brothers had been in the United States for several years and were believed to be legal immigrants, according to U.S. government sources.

U.S. government officials said the Tsarnaev brothers have not yet turned up in any databases as possible militants. Investigators were looking for links to radical foreign groups or possible accomplices in the United States.

A Russian language social networking site bearing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's name paid tribute to Islamic websites and to those calling for Chechen independence. The author identified himself as a 2011 graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, a public school in Cambridge.

He said he went to primary school in Makhachkala, capital of Dagestan, a province in Russia that borders on Chechnya, and listed his languages as English, Russian and Chechen. His "World view" was listed as "Islam" and his "Personal priority" as "career and money."

He posted links to videos of fighters in Syria's civil war and to Islamic web pages with titles such as "Salamworld, my religion is Islam" and "There is no God but Allah, let that ring out in our hearts."

He also had links to pages calling for independence for Chechnya, a region of Russia that lost its bid for independence after two wars in the 1990s.
 
The older brother was seen wearing a dark cap and sunglasses in surveillance images released by the FBI on April 18. The younger Tsarnaev was shown wearing a white cap in the pictures, taken shortly before Monday's explosions. 

"We believe this to be a terrorist," said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. "We believe this to be a man who has come here to kill people. We need to get him in custody." 

April/19/2013

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