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Another blast in Texas injures one; Trump blames serial bombings on ‘sick people’

Six mysterious bomb explosions have taken place in and around Austin, Texas, starting earlier this month.

world Updated: Mar 21, 2018 13:20 IST
Yashwant Raj
FBI agents collect evidence at a FedEx office facility following an explosion at a nearby sorting center on Tuesday morning  in Sunset Valley, Texas . Hours later another bombs went off injuring one person  at an employment-facilitating company in the latest of a series of six mysterious bomb explosions that have taken place in and around Austin starting earlier this month.
FBI agents collect evidence at a FedEx office facility following an explosion at a nearby sorting center on Tuesday morning in Sunset Valley, Texas . Hours later another bombs went off injuring one person at an employment-facilitating company in the latest of a series of six mysterious bomb explosions that have taken place in and around Austin starting earlier this month. (AFP Photo )

One person was injured on Tuesday in the latest of a series of six mysterious bomb explosions that have taken place in and around Austin, Texas, starting earlier this month.

Two people have been killed and at least five injured so far.

An incendiary device went off injuring one person at an employment-facilitating company late Tuesday evening, but police said investigations revealed it was not connected to the previous six.

Law enforcement officials have no idea who is behind them, and comparisons are being drawn to the most infamous of American serial bombers, Theodore John Kaczynski. Also called Unabomber, he had eluded detection as he killed three people and injured 23 in a countrywide bombing campaign from 1978 to 1995.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the Austin bombings looked like the work of “a very, very sick individual, or maybe individuals. These are sick people, and we will get to the bottom of it”.

The FBI has announced a reward of $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the bomber(s), and is leading a manhunt that involved 500 personnel drawn from every specialty unit that there can be.

In an unusual move, the agency has asked the individual(s) responsible to get in touch. “We would like him to reach out and talk to us,” said Christopher Combs, FBI head of the nearby San Antonio division.

No one has stepped forward yet.

The fifth explosion took place early Tuesday morning, when a package exploded at a facility of FedEx, a delivery company, at Schertz, outside San Antonio, which is about 80 miles from Austin. An employee was injured.

Around six hours later, a suspicious package was reported at a FedEx facility near the Austin international airport. “It was determined the package contained an explosive device and was disrupted by law enforcement,” the FBI said in a statement.

These two, the agency added, were “connected to the four previous package explosions that occurred between March 2 and March 18”.

The first explosion took place on March 2. Law enforcement officials have said it was a powerful device — essentially a pipe bomb — that had been left on the doorsteps of an address in north Austin. The resident, a 39-year-old man, died of injuries sustained in the explosion.

Two separate explosions followed on March 12. The bombs were left at the doorsteps, as in the first instance. A 17-year-old school student was killed in one of them, and a woman suffered non-life threatening injuries.

In the other explosion that day, a package exploded badly injuring a 75-year-old woman.

The fourth explosion took place on March 18. Unlike the previous devices, this was not doorstep-delivery. It was an explosive lying by the side of the road and it was triggered by a trip-wire; two men were injured.

Both killed were African American men and one of the injured was a Hispanic woman, which had caused particular concern among minority communities.

But there were also two white men among the injured.

Three members of the Black Congressional Caucus — a group of African-American lawmakers — have, however, asked authorities to investigate if the bombings were “ideologically or racially motivated”.

“The community impacted is now under virtual house arrest and the entire city is posed to be in a state of fear -- which can easily transition into panic,” read a joint statement issued by the three lawmakers, Bennie Thompson, Cedric Richmond and Sheila Jackson Lee.