Category Archives: World
BOSTON—Police have nabbed the 19-year-old suspected Boston Marathon bomber, after a day-long manhunt that completely shut down the city of Boston and several suburbs and left one police officer dead. Bostonians flooded into the streets to cheer the news, celebrating an end to five days of fear since the bombs wounded more than 175 people and killed three.
An ambulance arrived at the scene to take the wounded suspect, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, to a hospital.
Tsarnaev was found in a boat in the yard of a home on Franklin Street, close to where he and his older brother engaged in a shootout with police nearly 24 hours earlier. The homeowner discovered Tsarnaev when he saw blood on the outside of his boat and then lifted the tarp to find a person, covered in blood, inside. Police exchanged gun fire with the suspect for the next hour, before he was apprehended.
Watertown residents–finally able to leave their homes around 8:45 p.m.–broke into cheers and applauded police officers after word spread that the suspect was in custody.
“We’re so grateful to bring justice and closure to this case,” Massachusetts State Police Col. Timothy Alben said at a 9:30 p.m. press conference. “We’re exhausted … but we have a victory here tonight.” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said he could find no explanation for the “savagery” of the attacks.
Just a few hours earlier, at 6:00 p.m., police announced that the 19-year-old suspected bomber had so far eluded capture after fleeing from police on foot early Friday morning.
Thousands of law enforcement officers conducted a nearly 24-hour door-to-door manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is believed to have helped his brother plant two bombs near the finish line at Monday’s Boston Marathon that wounded more than 170 people and left three dead.
Officials announced at 6:00 p.m. news conference that they had been unable to apprehend the suspect, despite combing through a 20-block area of the Boston suburb of Watertown and shutting down the city’s entire public transportation system in an effort to prevent him from fleeing. They said they did not know if he had a car, or if he was still on foot.
Gov. Deval Patrick lifted his previous “shelter in place,” or lockdown, order for the city of Boston and many surrounding areas of the city at 6:00 p.m.. But Patrick urged Bostonians to continue to be “vigilant” as the “very dangerous” armed suspect has not been apprehended.
An overnight police chase and shootout left Dzhokhar’s 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev dead and Dzhokhar on the lam.
Federal investigators had released photos and videos of the two men hours earlier, showing them in the vicinity of the marathon finish line before the twin explosions. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was seen placing a backpack on the ground minutes before the blast, investigators said.
One police officer was killed and another seriously wounded during the violent spree. The city of Boston and its surrounding areas ground to a standstill for hours as police went door to door searching for the suspect in the suburb of Watertown.
Police said they had uncovered several improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Watertown and in the brothers’ home in Cambridge.
Tsarnaev is a student at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. The Tsarnaev family is originally from Chechnya, a volatile and once war-torn southern Russian republic. The family fled to Kyrgyzstan and eventually immigrated to the United States as refugees about 10 years ago.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the dead suspect, studied at a local community college and was a Golden Gloves boxer. He also reportedly had a wife and young child. The FBI questioned him two years ago for terrorist ties at the request of a foreign government, but cleared him, according to the AP.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was remembered by former classmates as bright and personable, posted links to pro-Chechnyan independence sites on his social media page, and listed his world view as “Islam.” It’s unknown if either the separatist politics of Chechnya or their religion had anything to do with the suspects’ motivations.
Tsarnaev appeared to be posting to his Twitter account even after the marathon attacks, writing in his last post on Wednesday, “I’m a stress free kind of guy.” His posts covered everything from cute photos of his cat to rap lyrics.
In an interview with The New York Times, the suspects’ father said Tamerlan had been unable to become a U.S. citizen because he was arrested for hitting his girlfriend, and that he traveled to Russia last year to live for six months and renew his passport. Dzhokhar is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
The suspects’ uncle, when told that one of his nephews was killed by the local CBS News station, replied that he deserved it.
“He deserved his. He absolutely deserved his,” Ruslan Tsarni said. “They do not deserve to live on this earth.”
Later, in an emotional press conference outside his home in Maryland, Tsarni said his nephews had brought shame upon his family, and called them “losers.” He speculated that they were not “able to settle themselves” and were “angry at everyone who was able to.” He said he did not believe they were motivated by radical politics in Chechnya or their Muslim religion.
“Dzhokhar, If you’re alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness from the victims [and] the injured,” he said. “He put a shame on our family. He put a shame on the entire Chechnyan ethnicity. Turn yourself in.”
He added that he hadn’t been in touch with the family for several years but would not say why.
“I’m ready to kneel in front of them and ask their forgiveness,” Tsarni said of the victims of his nephews’ crime. “I respect this country; I love this country … this country that gives everybody chance to be treated like human being.” Other family members, including an aunt and the brothers’ father, said they did not believe the brothers could have planted bombs.
The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth announced shortly after 10:30 a.m. on Friday that they were evacuating the entire campus after learning Tsarnaev is a registered student there.
Earlier, at sunrise Friday, Gov. Patrick ordered a shutdown of all public transit and for residents in the city of Boston and on its edges to stay indoors. Amtrak also shut down all trains between Boston and New York.
“We cannot continue to lock down an entire city or an entire state,” Alben told reporters. He added that he believes the suspect is still in the state, but would not elaborate.
Boston and the surrounding areas of Watertown, Waltham, Belmont, Cambridge, Newton, Allston and Brighton were placed on lockdown for most of Friday. A no-fly zone was declared over Watertown. The city of Boston was eerily quiet for much of the day, the city’s busy intersections totally abandoned.
The mayhem began at approximately 10:20 p.m. Thursday in Cambridge when police said the bombing suspects shot and killed an MIT campus officer, Sean Collier, 26. Davis said that Collier was “assassinated” by the suspects while sitting in his cruiser. The terror suspects then carjacked a Mercedes-Benz SUV with the driver inside and fled, eventually letting the driver go unharmed.
The suspects were then spotted in Watertown, where federal agents swarmed in. At approximately 3:30 a.m., Massachusetts State
Police issued a plea on Twitter for residents of Watertown to lock their doors and not open them for anyone, as dozens of police officers, many of them off duty, searched backyards and exteriors of houses there, and a police perimeter of several blocks was established.
Worried residents were also told to turn off their cell phones out of fear that they could trigger improvised explosive devices.
The suspects exchanged dozens of rounds of gunfire with patrol officers, and lobbed IEDs out of their vehicle, injuring several officers.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot by police and brought to Beth Israel Medical Center. He arrived at the hospital under cardiac arrest with multiple gunshot wounds and blast-like injuries to his chest. The second suspect fled on foot.
A transit police officer, Richard H. Donohue, was seriously wounded during the exchange of gunfire, officials said.
K9 units and SWAT teams searched homes on Spruce Street as officers with a police robot searched an SUV that the suspects had abandoned. Multiple devices were left in the road and two handguns were recovered, according to police scanners.
“We believe this to be a terrorist,” said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, of Tsarnaev. “We believe this to be a man who has come here to kill people. We need to get him into custody.”
Police in Watertown, Newton, Brighton and Cambridge were put on high alert. “Units use caution,” an officer said. “He might have an explosive object on his person.”
Police were able to track down images of the suspects after a victim of the attacks, Jeff Bauman, came to them with a description, Bloomberg reported Thursday. Bauman’s legs were torn apart by the bomb.
At least 130 people are injured and three dead after two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon. The injuries include dismemberment, witnesses said, and local hospitals say they are treating shrapnel wounds, open fractures and limb injuries. An eight-year-old boy is one of the three known dead, multiple news outlets reported, and several of the injured are also children.
At a Monday night press conference, Gov. Deval Patrick urged Bostonians to be vigilant on their morning commute Tuesday, and to report any suspicious packages to the police. The FBI has officially taken over the investigation, and is treating it as a potential terrorist attack.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis stressed that the police had no suspect in custody yet. “I’m not prepared to say we are at ease at this time,” Davis said, when asked if the area was safe. Authoritiesfound and dismantled five more more explosive devices in the area, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“This cowardly act will not be taken in stride,” Davis said. “We will turn over every rock to find out who is responsible.”
Davis said Boston police were not aware of any specific threat to the marathon before it began. Police said they had no one in custody and no suspects, but the Boston Globe reported that a “person of interest” who was injured in the blast was being questioned at Brigham and Woman’s HospitalMonday night.
Two large explosions, just 50 yards apart, went off at 2:50 p.m. ET, more than four hours into the race. One of the explosions happened near the entrance of the Fairmont Copley Hotel in Copley Square. The blast scattered hundreds of onlookers and runners, and left a bloody scene of injured spectators, including children. Local news reporter Jackie Bruno wrote that she saw some people with their limbs blown off. The Boston Police Department said it is looking for video footage taken from the finish line as part of its investigation. Video footage shows first responders and bystanders rushing to the scene of the blast to help the wounded.
Boston Medical Center took in 20 patients, including two children, most of whom are being treated for “lower leg injuries,” a spokeswoman said. A spokeswoman for Tufts Medical Center said the hospital is treating nine patients for conditions such as shrapnel wounds, ruptured ear drums, and “serious orthopedic and neuromuscular trauma to the lower legs.” At least one patient was as young as three years old.
President Barack Obama warned Americans in a brief statement Monday evening not to jump to conclusions before authorities find out who committed the crime. “We will find out who did this,” Obama said in an appearance in the White House briefing room. “Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.” A White House official said the incident is being treated as an act of terror.
NBC News, citing anonymous law enforcement sources, reported Monday that a “small homemade bomb” is believed to be responsible for the explosion. The FAA created a no-fly zone around the area. Cell phone service was shut down in the area, the AP reported, to prevent any remote detonations. Family and friends of marathon runners or spectators can call 617-635-4500 for information on their loved ones.
This video from the Boston Globe shows the moment the bomb went off, and the paper has also pulled together dramatic photos from the aftermath. According to marathon officials, several thousand runners had not finished the race when the explosions detonated.
Police have evacuated the area on Boylston Street to continue sweeping for more devices. Runners who had not yet finished the race were stopped at mile 25 and directed to Boston Common. The Boston Police Department called in all off duty officers in the city. This New York Times map shows where on the route the explosions took place.
Patrick called it a “horrific day in Boston” in a statement.
The New York Police Department is stepping up security around the city in response to the explosion. At the White House, yellow police tape was used to block off Pennsylvania Avenue from pedestrians in front of the White House’s north gates and secret service were positioned along the perimeter. Credentialed pass holders continued to be permitted entry and exit from both the White House and the Executive Office Building.
In the remote Alaska wilderness, some 3,800 miles from Pyongyang, North Korea, the United States’ last line of defense against a nuclear warhead from North Korea or Iran stands ready to attack.
Fort Greely, Alaska, a World War II-era Army base that was reopened in 2004, is America’s last chance to shoot down a missile from overseas that could be carrying a nuclear weapon. Its underground steel and concrete silos house 26 missile interceptors that have, in tests, a 50 percent success rate.
The 800-acre base is located some 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks, in the looming shadow of Denali. It is one of only two missile defense complexes in the country. The other, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, houses four interceptors that are used for testing and “backup,” according to defense officials.
In March, as the North Korean crisis began to heat up, President Obama ordered another 14 interceptors be sent to Greely, bringing its arsenal to 44 from 2017.
Concern about North Korea heightened this week when the Defense Intelligence Agency released a document that concluded with “moderate confidence” that North Korea might have a nuclear weapon that’s small enough to be placed on a ballistic missile. But the agency also said the reliability of a North Korean missile would be low.
Greely is equipped to handle the current threat, which is seen as slight, according to Leon Sigal, an expert on North Korea at the Social Science Research Council in New York.
“If all it has to worry about is a single missile coming at it, chance it could kill it. If you fire six missiles at one time… and if one gets through, your whole day is ruined…. The problem is sooner or later North Korea will improve its missile ranges, so the question you have to ask is will our anti-missile capabilities make sufficient progress so it could work against a more robust threat?” Sigal said.
“What we’ve got at Greely is of some limited utility. It’s better than nothing,” he said.
The U.S. military, however, confident that Greely is poised to swat away any missile threat.
“Basically central Alaska was an ideal spot because of the geometry you’d have to conduct a hit-to-kill intercept from a country like Iran or North Korea,” said Ralph Scott, spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency in Alaska.
“Alaska is like the top of the world, and the only way you can view it as a missile defense benefit would be to look at a globe. You can see the routes the missiles from North Korea and Iran would take to get to the U.S. Having the system there in central Alaska would give you that geometry,” Scott said.
The base at Fort Greely is desolate and spare, with one highway that rolls into and out of the base connecting it to a rugged Alaskan landscape. As the base’s spokeswoman, Deborah Coble, pointed out, the nearest stoplight is 100 miles away.
The base was used in the years after World War II to train soldiers in cold climate-warfare. Soldiers now stationed at the base still test cold-weather uniforms, layered with synthetic and engineered fibers, for the Army.
“Travel to areas with standard day-to-day services can be treacherous,” Coble said. “Temperatures can reach from 60 below zero and colder in winter to the high 80s to low 90s in summer. Winds can reach over 80 (miles per hour). Fort Greely is truly the ‘Home of the Rugged Professional.’
Today, Fort Greely’s sole purpose is missile defense, and its only occupants are staff to operate and maintain the missiles, their software, and the base’s operations. The population is usually about 1,450 people. Most are contractors charged with maintaining the technology, and base support staff. The crew includes only 40 active duty Army troops and 160 members of the National Guard’s 49th Missile Defense Battalion.
The interceptor silos are spread across two missile fields on the base. In the event of a missile launched from the other side of the world, clam shell-like doors at the top of the silos would shoot open and the interceptor would rocket more than 100 miles into the sky at speeds of 18,000 miles per hour, according to Scott.
When the 54-foot-long interceptors reach the right altitude, the interceptors launch the attached 140-pound “kill vehicle” at the warhead, Scott explained. The two collide, taking down the nuclear warhead.
“There are no explosives. It’s all done by kinetic energy,” he explained.
“It’s hit-to-kill technology,” said Rick Lehner of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. “What it does is, you’re colliding the kill vehicle directly with the warhead, and just the sheer force of the collision happens very high in space.”
Tests of the technology, however, have shown problems with the interceptors and their effectiveness in taking down another missile. While the Alaska interceptors have never been tested, the ones at Vandenberg have been tested with about a 50 percent success rate.
“We’ve had 15 tests, and eight have had successful intercepts. Seven did not, but of those seven only three were actual misses and the other four came from problems with quality control or software issues,” Lehner said.
“Based upon what we learn from the failures, we’ve incorporated fixes into the silos in Alaska and California,” he said. “We have very, very high confidence in their ability to perform.”
Congress has also asked the Defense Department to look into placing a missile defense system on the East Coast, though Lehner insisted that the Alaska base would be able to protect the entire country from a missile attack.
As rhetoric from North Korea has grown more belligerent in recent weeks, missile defense systems around the world are prepared for any kind of launch, according to the Department of Defense. That includes defenses against short- and mid-range missiles aboard battle ships in the Pacific as well as radar and ground systems in Japan and Guam.
But the interceptors at Fort Greely are specifically designed for long range missiles, known as an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile or ICBM, currently in development in North Korea and Iran.
The Defense Department believes that North Korea was testing one such ICBM when it launched a rocket in December that North Korea press described as a space launch.
“We believe they’re testing their ICBM,” said Lt. Col. Cathy Wilkinson of the Secretary of Defense’s office. “That’s why the international community objected to the December launch.”
If North Korea developed the ability to launch a nuclear warhead on an ICBM, the interceptors would need to be ready, the Defense Department said.
The time between a missile being launched to the interceptors needing to be fired would be “minutes,” Scott said.
“We know that they have an ICBM program, and we know that they are pursuing a nuclear program,” Wilkinson said.
BN GOVT PLEDGE: Najib says state can look forward to better development
KUALA KRAI: PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday pledged to allocate land to the needy in Kelantan as part of Barisan Nasional’s plans to rectify land issues if they give the ruling coalition the mandate in the state in the next general election.
Najib, who is also BN chairman and Umno president, said that as a responsible government, all the pledges made to develop the state, including the seven projects announced during his visit in January, would be fulfilled.
“The Barisan Nasional pledges are promises fulfilled,” he said when addressing more than 40,000 people at a meet-the-people session at the Mara Junior Science College (MRSM) Kuala Krai here.
The seven projects, including the construction of a highway from Kuala Krai to Kota Baru and 3,000 units of affordable homes, would not only benefit the people in Kuala Krai but the whole state.
He said the BN government would also resolve the problem of clean water supply faced by the people following the failure of the Pas-led state government to address the matter despite having ruled the state for more than 22 years.
“We know that the people of Kelantan have a passion for owning land,” he said.
Najib made the land pledge to the people after taking a cue from state BN chairman Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, who had in his speech earlier made six promises, including stopping the award of state land to DAP leaders.
“I support the move against giving out land to DAP leaders. Seven (projects in his recent announcement) plus six (promises by Mustapa) equals 13. My additional promise is to give land to the people,” he said.
On another note, Najib said the Kelantan people had been weakened by hearing repeated lies over the two decades of Pas’ rule in the state. He said there was no obvious development which could be seen in Kelantan despite various promises made by the state leaders.
“Kelantan people are exhausted by belawok (lies). (The state government leaders) lie day and night, left and right but do not do anything for the people.”
Najib said it was not a worthy government to be elected if all it offered were empty promises.
He also said political leaders with the tendency to make unwarranted comments against the security forces should be voted out by the people.
“We have to punish them and the best time for their punishment is during the elections.”
SEOUL (Reuters) – The United States flew two nuclear-capable stealth bombers on practice runs over South Korea on Thursday, in a rare show of force following a series of North Korean threats that the Pentagon said have set Pyongyang on a dangerous path.
The drill by the two B-2 Spirit bombers – flying all the way from the United States and back – appeared to be the first exercise of its kind and showed America’s ability to conduct long-range, precision strikes “quickly and at will,” the U.S. military said.
The bomber flights, and the unusual public announcement of them by the U.S. military, appeared designed to send a message of Washington’s resolve to North Korea amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.
In recent weeks, North Korea has said it cancelled an armistice agreement with the United States that ended the 1950-53 Korean War and has cut all communications hotlines with U.S. forces, the United Nations and South Korea.
North Korea has threatened South Korea with war and the mainland United States with a pre-emptive nuclear strike, although it is far from clear it has the ability to carry out the latter threat.
“The North Koreans have to understand that what they’re doing is very dangerous,” U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon.
“We must make clear that these provocations by the North are taken by us very seriously and we’ll respond to that.”
The U.S. military said that its B-2 bombers had flown more than 6,500 miles (10,461 km) to stage a trial bombing raid from their bases in Missouri as part of Foal Eagle war drills being held with South Korea.
The bombers dropped inert munitions on the Jik Do Range, in South Korea, and then returned to the continental United States in a single, continuous mission, the military said.
Thursday’s drill was the first time B-2s flew round-trip from the mainland United States over South Korea and dropped inert munitions, a Pentagon spokeswoman said.
‘REHEARSALS FOR INVASION’
North Korea has put its armed forces on readiness to fight what it says are “hostile” war drills by the United States and South Korea, describing them as rehearsals for invasion. The U.S. says the annual drills are entirely defensive.
Victor Cha, a North Korea expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the drill fit within the context of ramped efforts by the Pentagon to deter the North from acting upon any of its threats.
Asked whether he thought the latest moves could further aggravate tensions on the peninsula, Cha, a former White House official, said: “I don’t think the situation can get any more aggravated than it already is.”
Despite the shrill rhetoric from Pyongyang, few believe North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, will risk starting a full-out war.
It has also kept a joint economic zone with the South open as it generates $2 billion a year in trade from the venture, money the impoverished state can ill-afford to lose.
Still, Hagel, who on March 15 announced he was bolstering missile defenses over the growing North Korea threat, said all of the provocations by the reclusive state had to be taken seriously.
“Their very provocative actions and belligerent tone, it has ratcheted up the danger, and we have to understand that reality,” Hagel said, renewing a warning that the U.S. military was ready for “any eventuality” on the peninsula.
North Korea conducted a third nuclear weapons test in February in breach of U.N. sanctions and despite warnings from China, its one major diplomatic ally.
While the North has an armory of Soviet-era Scud missiles that can hit South Korea, its longer-range missiles remain untested.
Independent assessments of its missile strike force suggest that it may have the theoretical capacity to hit U.S. bases in Japan and Guam, but the North has not tested these missiles.
Still, Hagel told reporters the North had a “significant” missile capability and defended his decision to spend nearly $1 billion bolstering American missile defense capabilities, saying the Pentagon needed to plan for potential threats.
“You only need to be wrong once,” Hagel said.
“And I don’t know what president or what chairman or what secretary of defense wants to be wrong once when it comes to nuclear threats.”
(Additional reporting by Phil Stewart and David Alexander in Washington; Editing by Warren Strobel and Paul Simao)