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A member of the bomb squad investigates a suspicious item on the road near Kenmore Square after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15 in Boston. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Alex Trautwig / Getty Images)
The Pakistan-based Taliban is denying any role in Monday’s twin bombings that killed three and wounded more than 100 more during the Boston Marathon.
“Wherever we find Americans we will kill them, but we don’t have any connection with the Boston Explosions,” spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said, according to multiple reports.
The Taliban’s denial came as federal officials, lawmakers and analysts looked for clues about whether the attack originated from a foreign group or from a domestic source.
Multiple entities within the federal government are investigating what many federal officials and lawmakers are calling a terrorist attack.
Although he did not refer to the incident as “terror” on Monday, President Barack Obama did use that term Tuesday.
During a Tuesday morning appearance in the White House briefing room, Obama called the incident "an act of terror." But he indicated federal officials have few leads so far.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday told a House panel the Boston bombing is a "cruel act of terror." Hagel said federal officials have yet to identify any suspects, and he predicted a lengthy and "thorough" investigation is likely.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, in a Monday statement did use the term, saying America's "enemies" are responsible. "In my judgment, this has all the hallmarks of an act of terrorism, but we do not know for sure who did it," McCaul said. "Today's events are a stark reminder that our enemies continue to plot against us."
Among those responding Monday was the Defense Department. Officials at U.S. Northern Command, which oversees military defense of the continental United States, held an afternoon conference call to discuss the incident, according to a military spokeswoman for the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based command.
Initial reports said the two explosions injured dozens. Boston Police officials confirmed three deaths late Monday evening. Graphic images appeared online showing individuals missing limbs, some with exposed bones, and blood staining most of a city block.
Some reports, citing law enforcement officials, called the bombs used “modest” in strength. Some of those officials said ball bearings were inside the devices. It appears police found up to five unexploded improvised devices.
Obama, speaking early Monday evening from the White House, vowed to find those responsible for the bombings.
“We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts,” Obama said. “But make no mistake — we will get to the bottom of this. And we will find out who did this; we’ll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”
While Obama did not use the term “terrorist attack,” a White House official did so in a statement issued later Monday evening.
Obama said he had been briefed by his homeland security advisers, adding he has “directed the full resources of the federal government to help state and local authorities protect our people, increase security around the United States as necessary, and investigate what happened.”
Obama received his first briefing on the incident around 3 p.m. Monday from Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco and other members of his senior staff in the Oval Office, according to a White House official.
“The President called Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to express his concern for those who were injured and to make clear that his administration is ready to provide needed support as they respond to the incident,” the official said.
A no-fly zone was established over downtown Boston on Monday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
More than 400 soldiers from the Massachusetts National Guard were working at the marathon, according to the Defense Department. News video from the scene showed men in U.S. Army uniforms running to the site of the explosion pulling debris off injured bystanders.
Obama also spoke to congressional leaders by phone Monday evening.
The Senate held a moment of silence, and the House did the same later Monday.
“I’m shocked and saddened by what appears to be a deliberate assault on innocent civilians in Boston,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., said in a tweet.
Members of Congress took to cable news soon after the attack to dub it a “terrorist attack.” Some law enforcement officials also used that term.
Calling it a coordinated attack, Rep. Bill Keating, D-Mass., said in a television interview that no individual or group has yet to take responsibility.
Keating echoed Obama as he concluded his comments: “We will bring the responsible party to justice.”