Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston bombings investigation gathers pace after reports of CCTV breakthrough

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Mayor's office says significant lead provided by department store footage as FBI criticises media for inaccurate reports of arrest

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The FBI investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings appeared to gather pace on Wednesday with reports of a breakthrough in the hunt for the suspect behind the attack, which killed three people and injured almost 200 others.

The mayor of Boston said that a significant lead had been provided by video footage recorded by a department store security camera. But the FBI denied reports by CNN and the Associated Press that an arrest had been made as a result of the images.

Forensic investigators said they had found the lid of a pressure cooker believed to have been used to make one of the bombs on top of a rooftop near the finish line of the marathon, where the blasts occurred.

FBI photographs indicated possible fragments of an improvised cooker bomb. The pictures show twisted parts of a metal casing, wires to a small box, a rechargeable battery and a circuit board.

The FBI said it was likely that the explosive devices were packed with explosives and metal projectiles, such as nails, pellets and ball bearings. It is believed that the bombs were hidden inside backpacks. The photographs included images of black nylon pieces – which the FBI said may have come from one of the bags.

Pieces of shrapnel have been recovered from the bodies of those who were injured. Doctors at a number of hospitals have reported nails, pellets and other metal fragments being pulled from wounds.

The mayor's office said the latest leads were from a security camera at a department store. "The camera from Lord & Taylor is the best source of video so far," Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for mayor Thomas Menino told the Boston Globe. "All I know is that they [the FBI] are making progress."

The third person to have died in the attack was identified publicly on Wednesday as Lu Lingzi, 23, a Boston University graduate student who was a Chinese citizen. Lingzi had been watching the race with two friends when the bombs detonated, according to China's state newswire, Xinhua.

The two others who died were Martin Richard, eight, and Krystle Campbell, 29, who had been at the finish line to watch a friend complete the race. A further 176 spectators and runners were injured. Doctors said a number of those wounded remained on the critical list, including a five-year-old boy.

In Washington, the homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, said the Boston bombing was not believed to be part of a wider terrorist conspiracy against the US, and sought to calm fears of a greater threat when she said that though the FBI was investigating "an act of terrorism" there was "no current indication to suggest that the attack was part of a larger plot".

She said security had been tightened at Boston harbour and along the Charles river in order to protect the city from any "Mumbai-type attack", but stressed that was purely out of an "abundance of caution".

Media chastised

CNN found itself the focus of significant criticism for reporting that an arrest had been made in the case. CNN correspondent John King asserted on the air that authorities had detained a suspect. Other outlets, including the Guardian and NBC, reported FBI denials of an arrest.

Later, the FBI chastised the media for its inaccurate reporting. "Contrary to widespread reporting, there have been no arrests made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack. Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate.

"Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting."

The mood remained jittery in Boston and in major cities across the US, made worse by the disclosure that President Obama and a Congressman had been sent letters that had tested positive for the poison ricin.

On Tuesday night, hundreds of people gathered in vigils around Boston to mark the marathon bombings, as the city attempted to come to terms with the aftermath of the attack.

The White House said the president and the first lady would attend an inter-faith service in Boston on Thursday for the victims.

At the daily White House briefing, Obama's spokesman Jay Carney was asked why there was still no idea about who was responsible for the Boston bombing after almost 48 hours, to which he replied: "The president has faith in the FBI and in the entire national and homeland security team." © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Jim Newell 18 Apr, 2013

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