Boston Bombing News from CS Monitor & McClatchy
Jonathan Landay of McClatchy:
The peace of a historic and festive event was shattered Monday when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people, including an 8-year-old, and injuring at least 130 more.
The near-simultaneous blasts shattered windows and sent runners and onlookers fleeing through curtains of thick gray smoke. Police and emergency personnel rushed to aid casualties lying on the blood-stained pavement.
Eight children were among the injured.
No one claimed credit for the carnage in the city known as the Cradle of Liberty on the day celebrated as Patriots Day, and law enforcement authorities were reluctant to characterize the attack. But the bombings immediately drew fears that terrorists were responsible. As many as five other explosive devices were reported to have been found in the city.
Boston area hospitals reported many victims of the blasts to be in critical condition with blast injuries to their arms and legs. At least 10 amputations were reported. The closest hospital to the bomb site, Massachusetts General Hospital, was treating 22 victims, including six in critical condition, said spokeswoman Kristen Chadwick.
At Boston Medical Center, a spokesman said its staff was treating 20 victims, including two children, but declined to describe their condition.
Jeremy Lechan, a spokesman for the Tufts Medical Center, where nine victims were taken, said that five of the patients were in surgery with significant injuries, but none life-threatening.
“Four of the surgical cases were serious orthopedic and neuromuscular trauma to the lower legs, with open fractures, some others have shrapnel wounds and ruptured ear drums,” he said.
The blasts occurred about 100 yards apart, close to the finishing line of the historic 26.2-mile race, on Boylston Street, which courses through a popular shopping and dining area of Boston known as Back Bay.
The first blast went off shortly before 2:50 p.m., about four hours into the race. It was quickly followed by the second. An estimated 9,000 of the 26,000 runners were still out on the course when the devices erupted in flaming gusts that twisted railings on the sidewalks into tangles of metal and wood that rescuers had to wrench into the street to reach casualties.
Boston’s Logan Airport was briefly shut down for a security sweep after local law enforcement officials asked the Federal Aviation Administration to place a temporary flight restriction over a 3.5-mile radius of the city.
“Everything has frozen and stopped,” Greg Hall, 58, of Kansas City, Mo., said shortly after the explosions. “You can’t get in or out. Traffic is just snarled. There are emergency vehicles everywhere.”
Hall, who was in Boston with some 125 runners from Kansas City, said he didn’t know if any were hurt.
Mark Potok, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist groups, said that April 19 – which falls on Friday – is an “iconic day in the calendar of the American right, but I don’t see anything in the target or this date that tells us anything definitive."
April 19 is marked both as the start of the American Revolution, the start of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in World War II, the bloody end of the Waco standoff and the Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995.
Potok, though, said the targeting of a sporting event is "not an obvious" target for either domestic or international terrorists
Howard LaFranchi of the Christian Science Monitor:
The 2011 “lone wolf” terrorist attacks in Norway, which targeted both government buildings and a summer youth camp, are evidence that individuals can plan and implement major attacks.
The Norway attacks, carried out by Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Breivik, are also a reminder that initial speculation is often wrong: In that case many officials and experts initially assumed the attacks were the work of international terrorist groups.
Officials in Boston said there was no intelligence or “chatter” hinting at a possible marathon attack. That bit of information suggested to some experts that the attack may indeed have been the work of a lone wolf or a lone wolf “pack.”
The investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings is just beginning and motives are not known. But the date and location of the attack suggest some possibilities.
Terrorism experts said the attack, which killed three people and left more than 100 injured, some critically, had some of the hallmarks of a “lone wolf” or perhaps an ad hoc domestic group – but that it was also way too early to rule out individuals or a group affiliated or inspired by Al Qaeda or one of its regional organizations.
“This [attack] has some of the ring of Al Qaeda, but it also has the earmarks of a lone wolf,” says Juan Zarate, a former deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism under President George W. Bush.
The symbolism and high visibility of the Boston Marathon finish line are reminiscent of Al Qaeda targeting, he says, but other factors – that the attack was carried out on April 15, the federal income tax deadline and what in Massachusetts is Patriots Day – could also suggest the work of a disgruntled lone wolf or domestic anti-government groups.
National security analyst Peter Bergen said on CNN that the attack could be the work of “right-wing extremists.” For the so-called “patriot” groups, anything from tax day to the heated national debate on gun regulations could have been the triggers for such an attack.
Some analysts even noted that the attacks were carried out at about the 26-mile marker of the race – which had been dedicated to the 26 victims in Newtown, Conn., which has moved to the center of the gun-regulation debate.
Public safety officials in Boston reported Monday evening that one individual, a Saudi national at the marathon finish line, was questioned but was not a suspect. Authorities also said they were searching for a van that was seen in the area before the blasts.
Nationally, security measures were tightened in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington – where the pedestrian street in front of the White House was closed. Increased security was also ordered in London, which is set to hold its own marathon race Sunday.