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Americas

Three killed, scores injured in Boston Marathon explosions

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-04-16

At least three people were killed and more than 100 injured after two explosions went off at the finish line of the world famous Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon, sending plumes of smoke into the air and staining the sidewalks with blood.

Two explosions rocked the crowded streets near the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, killing three people and injuring more than 100, many of them critically. A White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still unfolding, said the attack was being treated as an act of terrorism, while President Barack Obama pledged to track down those responsible.

The two blasts went off in quick succession around four hours after the world-famous race began, in what appeared to be a well-coordinated attack. The first explosion occurred on the north side of Boylston Street as dozens of amateur runners neared the finish line. The second one went off a few seconds later less than 90 metres away.

Television footage showed flags near the finish line being blown by the bomb’s shockwave, with some spectators and at least one runner falling to the floor. Scenes of panic and chaos ensued, as rescue workers tried to get to the scene of the attacks while disoriented runners and their families fled.

Around 17,000 runners had already finished the race when the explosions occurred, but thousands of others were further back along the course. Runners were taken in to businesses and private homes by Boston city residents.

Broken glass and blood covered the sidewalk, with many witnesses speaking of bloodied faces, severed legs and ruptured eardrums. Trauma surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital said they had performed several amputations by mid-evening on Monday.

According to Reuters, the bombs used gunpowder as the explosive and were packed with ball bearings and other shrapnel to maximise injuries.

Eight-year-old Martin Richard, who was waiting to give his father a hug at the finish line, was killed in the attack, the London Times reported. Names of the other dead and injured have not yet been made public by hospitals or officials.

Security heightened

Speaking from the White House late on Monday, Obama avoided using the words “terrorism”. However a White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still unfolding, said the explosions, the worst attack on US soil since September 11, 2001, were being treated as terrorism.

“We will find out who did this. We'll find out why they did this,” Obama said in his brief statement. “Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice.''

No one is believed to have yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

US media reported that one or several additional explosives along the marathon were found and defused by bomb squads, citing police sources.

In New York City, police spokesman Paul Browne said that critical response teams were deployed around the city. Officials were stepping up security at hotels and other prominent locations.

In France, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said he had requested an immediate reinforcement of police on the ground in line with France’s Vigipirate terrorist threat system.

The Boston Marathon has been held on Patriots' Day, the third Monday of April, since 1897. The event, which starts in Hopkinton, Massachusetts and ends in Boston's Copley Square, attracts an estimated half-million spectators and some 20,000 participants every year.

Date created : 2013-04-16

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