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Boston Marathon explosions considered ‘an act of terror’

President Barack Obama said federal and state law enforcement officials are investigating the two blasts at the 117th Boston marathon as acts of terrorism.

Howard Manly

Calling the bombings that left three dead and more than 170 injured “a heinous and cowardly act,” President Barack Obama said federal and state law enforcement officials are investigating the two blasts at the 117th Boston marathon as acts of terrorism.

Among the dead was Martin Richardson, an 8 year-old boy from the Ashmont section of Dorchester, there with his family to watch marathoners finish running one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious events on Patriots Day, which commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution, at Concord and Lexington in 1775.

The boy’s mother, Denise, and 6-year-old sister, Jane, were badly injured. His brother and father were also watching the race but were not hurt.

The two bombs blew up in quick succession, near the row of international flags that led up to the finish line in Copley Square, near the landmark Prudential Center and Boston Public Library. The blasts tore off limbs and left Bolyston street spattered with blood and broken glass. Of the 176 people who were treated at hospitals, at least 17 were in critical condition and 41 in serious condition, according to hospital officials. At least nine of the wounded were children.

Investigators spent Monday going over the 12-block crime scene and fanning out to interview witnesses, with FBI Boston Field Office Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers vowing to go to find out who was behind the bombing.

“We will go to the ends of the Earth to identify the subject or subjects who are responsible for this despicable crime, and we will do everything we can to bring them to justice,” said DesLauriers.

He said investigators had received “voluminous tips” and were interviewing witnesses and analyzing the crime scene.

Despite earlier reports that more bombs had been found, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said there were no explosives other than the two that detonated.

DesLauriers said authorities were aware of no new public safety threats, but police officials asked Boston residents for patience with swarming investigators and increased security precautions around the city.

They also pleaded for the public to submit cell phone images and video that could help unravel the mystery of who created such carnage.

“Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror,” President Obama said on Tuesday, a day after the attacks. “What we don’t yet know, however, is who carried out this attack, or why; whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization, foreign or domestic, or was the act of a malevolent individual. That’s what we don’t yet know. And clearly, we’re at the beginning of our investigation.”

According to published reports, the explosives were believed to be put in six-liter pressure cookers, stuffed with shards of metal, nails and ball bearings, placed in black duffel bags and left on the ground.

“It will take time to follow every lead and determine what happened,” Obama said. “But we will find out. We will find whoever harmed our citizens and we will bring them to justice.”

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said investigators also gathered a large number of surveillance tapes from businesses in the area and intend to go through the video frame by frame. “This is probably one of the most photographed areas in the country yesterday,” he said.

In his comments on Tuesday, Obama praised the efforts of Boston officials, emergency personnel and what he called heroic Americans who provided aid and comfort to those injured during the aftermath of the blasts.

“The American people refuse to be terrorized,” Obama said. “Because what the world saw yesterday in the aftermath of the explosions were stories of heroism and kindness, and generosity and love.”

Obama cited “exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood, and those who stayed to tend to the wounded, some tearing off their own clothes to make tourniquets.”

But Obama was clear about the investigation. “In the coming days, we will pursue every effort to get to the bottom of what happened,” Obama said. “And we will continue to remain vigilant.”

Until further notice, Copley Square is an active crime scene, and as such, Boylston Street from Berkley Street to Massachusetts Avenue will be closed to food and vehicle traffic as well as all side streets along Boylston Street from Huntington Avenue to Newbury Street.

The attack appears to have been timed for maximum bloodshed: The four-hour mark is typically a crowded time near the finish line because of the slow-but-steady recreational runners completing the race and because of all the friends and relatives clustered around to cheer them on.

Davis, the police commissioner, said authorities had received “no specific intelligence that anything was going to happen” at the race. On Tuesday, he said that two security sweeps of the route had been conducted before the marathon.

Material from published reports contributed to this article