Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Terror attack in US leaves 3 dead, 100 injured

At least three people have been killed and more than 100 injured, some seriously, in two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, in the United States.

"Terrorist attack"

The blasts were described by authorities as having all the hallmarks of a terrorist attack, though no-one has yet claimed responsibility. TV footage showed bloodied runners and spectators being treated at the scene and the road strewn with debris. Meanwhile the FBI said that the incident was a "potential terrorist investigation".

In a television address, President Barack Obama said "we will find out who did this" and that those responsible would feel the "full weight of justice".

Unfolding events

The first explosion came at about 14:50 local time on Monday [18:50 GMT], approximately two hours after the winners crossed the line. Another loud explosion occurred a few seconds later, and smoke rose from the scene of the blasts.

Bloodied victims were initially rushed to a medical tent set up to care for fatigued runners. Emergency services descended on the scene, which was quickly locked down. First responders said there were many serious injuries and that some victims had suffered the loss of limbs.

State police officer Roupen Bastajian had just finished the race when he heard the blasts. "I started running toward the blast and there were people all over the floor," he said.

Serious injuries

"We started grabbing tourniquets and started tying legs. At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing."

A doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital said "several amputations" had been performed there with one source telling CNN that at least 10 people injured had limbs amputated. One of the dead was an 8-year-old boy, according to a state law enforcement source. Hospitals reported at least 144 people are being treated, with at least 17 of them in critical condition and 25 in serious condition. At least eight of the patients were children.


Investigators had alerted police to be on the lookout for a "darker-skinned or black male" with a possible foreign accent in connection with the attack, according to a law enforcement advisory obtained by CNN. The man was seen with a black backpack and sweatshirt and was trying to get into a restricted area about five minutes before the first explosion, the lookout notice stated.

A Saudi national with a leg wound was also said to be under guard at a Boston hospital in connection with the bombings, but investigators could not say whether he was involved, and said he was not in custody.

Heightened security

The Federal Aviation Administration placed a flight restriction over the site of the blasts soon after the attacks. Meanwhile security was elevated in other cities, including New York and Washington. Following standard protocol, the White House cleared out an area in front of the West Wing.

Across the pond, organisers of the London Marathon were reviewing security measures in the wake of the US attacks. Chief Superintendent Julia Pendry, the event's commander, said security arrangements will be reviewed following the explosions in Massachusetts. "A security plan is in place for the London Marathon. We will be reviewing our security arrangements in partnership with London Marathon."

London threat

Nick Bitel, London Marathon Chief Executive, said he was shocked and saddened by the news coming from the US, adding that he too had focused on security for London's up-coming sporting event. "Our security plan is developed jointly with the Metropolitan Police and we were in contact with them as soon as we heard the news."

The London Marathon was featured as the target of a failed terror attack in the film the Four Lions. The satirical film received generally positive reviews, but was also widely criticised for being in bad taste. Victims of London's 7/7 attacks described the film as "sick" and called for a boycott.

At the time of the film's release in 2010, Grahame Russell, whose 28-year-old son Philip died on board the bus blown up in Tavistock Square, said, "I didn't see the humour in four people buying ingredients to make a bomb to come to London and kill innocent members of the public on the underground." [Independent]

As well as increased security for the London Marathon, government and police officials involved in the security for Lady Thatcher's funeral on Wednesday are also said to be looking closely at their arrangements [Sky News].

tvnewswatch, Yunnan, China

Further reports: BBC / CNN / Boston.com / Al Jazeera

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