Terror strikes Boston Marathon; twin blasts turn finish line into scene of carnage

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With a flash of fire and a pair of deafening blasts, the Boston Marathon disintegrated Monday into a bloody scene of chaos and terror after two bombs went off near the finish line of the iconic race, killing at least three, severing limbs, injuring more than 130 and setting the country on high alert.

In scenes reminiscent of 9/11, video cameras captured gripping footage of bloodied bystanders running from the bomb sites as police and emergency responders made their way through the smoke to the injured.

Authorities had no suspects in custody, and officials in Washington said there was no immediate claim of responsibility. The Wall Street Journal reported later that as many as five additional undetonated bombs were found after the attack.

President Obama went before TV cameras shortly after 6 p.m. and vowed that those responsible would “feel the full weight of justice.”

The explosions occurred less than a minute apart, shortly before 3 p.m., along the north side of Boylston Street, knocking runners and bystanders to the ground.

Various media outlets reported that an 8-year-old was among those killed. Hospitals reported 134 injured, many of them missing limbs and 15 in critical condition.

Emergency responders flooded the area, breaking through makeshift fencing and national flags that were set up to adorn the race, while medical staff on hand to treat exhausted runners were conscripted into much more serious duties.

The attack immediately brought to mind the makeshift bombs normally associated with the Middle East. Officials in New York City and Washington heightened security on their streets and transit systems, while officials in London took stock of their security plans ahead of a marathon there Sunday.


SEE ALSO: D.C. police: Heightened security in effect after Boston blasts


The timing of the attack may have been intended to maximize casualties: The race leaders are long gone, but thousands of recreational runners, along with their cheering families and supporters, traditionally crowd the finish line at the four-hour mark.

In Boston, police Commissioner Edward Davis asked people to stay home or in their hotels.

After the explosions, witnesses said, they saw many people falling to the ground with bloody injuries from what one man described as a shrapnel-type bomb that erupted from the sidewalk.

“It didn’t come from the street, it didn’t come from a manhole,” the onlooker told NBC News.

Washington reacts

A White House official said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano briefed Mr. Obama on the investigation and response to the explosions, including coordination among federal agencies and state and local officials.

Mr. Obama directed his administration to provide whatever assistance is necessary in the investigation and response.

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