The city of Boston is on lockdown today as the one surviving suspects from the Boston Marathon bombings continues to evade authorities.
Chechen brothers Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, prime suspects in the case, are thought to be involved in a fatal shootout on Thursday night that resulted in the deaths of M.I.T. police officer Sean Collier and elder suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev plus detonation of another homemade explosive device. The younger brother reportedly jumped into a stolen Mercedes S.U.V., with Massachusetts license plate number 316 ES9, drove through a line of police, and escaped.
The explosions “lit up the whole house,” said nearby resident Loretta Kehayias, 65. “I screamed. I’ve never seen anything like this, never, never, never.”
“We believe these are the same individuals that were responsible for the bombing on Monday at the Boston Marathon,” said Col. Timothy P. Alben of the Massachusetts State Police.
Officers are frantically combing the city today, as authorities have pleaded with residents to stay inside with their door and windows locked.
The brothers are believed to be from Chechnya, a long-disputed Sunni Muslim territory in southern Russia. The region has been plagued by two bloody conflicts with Russia over the last 20 years following two attempts at secession. After Chechen independence was declared in 1992, the Russian military launched an unsuccessful invasion into the region in 1994, and was subsequently defeated. The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria was established and existed semi-independently until 1999, when a series of terrorist attacks in Russian cities by Chechen separatists led Russia to mount a ground offensive, ultimately killing tens of thousands of Chechen civilians.
In 2001, another pro-Moscow regime was installed, and the conflict was declared over.
Russia has since branded Chechen separatist groups as terrorists, and claims Chechnya has no legal right to secede. Leaders of militant groups in the area have gone underground, and many have since embraced fundamentalist Islam.
The suspects are believed to have last lived in Makhachkala, capital of Dagestan, a region near Chechnya. They are thought to have been born in an area near Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.
At this time there is no known connection between the suspects and militant Chechen groups.