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Texas bombings suspect blows himself up in car as police close in: Officials

The person is suspected of delivering six home-made bombs to locations around Austin, Texas, this month, killing two people.

world Updated: Mar 21, 2018 22:49 IST
Yashwant Raj
A police officer helps to secure the area after one person was injured by a package containing an incendiary device at a nearby Goodwill store on March 20, 2018 in Austin, Texas.
A police officer helps to secure the area after one person was injured by a package containing an incendiary device at a nearby Goodwill store on March 20, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (AFP Photo)

A man suspected of carrying out a series of bombings in and around Austin, Texas blew himself up as law enforcement officials closed in on him on Wednesday, authorities said.

The suspect, who was 23, had not been identified by authorities but news reports said he was Mark Anthony Conditt. Not much else had been disclosed about him or his motivation.

Surrounded by SWAT team members, he blew up the car he was in. An officer had also fired at the suspect, the police have said.

Two people had been killed and at least five were injured in the five bombings he carried out, starting March 2. The last of them occurred on Tuesday. On the same day, a sixth explosive was detected before it went off.

An incendiary device went off injuring one person at an employment-facilitating company in Austin on Tuesday evening, but police said investigations revealed it was not connected to the other bombings.

The FBI had 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 speciality unit that there can be.

And in an unusual move, the agency had asked the individual 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.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump tweeted the end of the manhunt: “AUSTIN BOMBING SUSPECT IS DEAD. Great job by law enforcement and all concerned!”

The first explosion took place on March 2. Law enforcement officials have said it was a powerful device — 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. In the first blast, a 17-year-old school student was killed and a woman suffered non-life threatening injuries. In the other explosion, a 75-year-old woman was badly injured.

The fourth explosion took place on March 18 when a device lying by the side of the road was triggered by a trip-wire, injuring two men.

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

The two people killed in the blasts were African American and one of the injured was Hispanic, leading to theories that minority communities were being targeted.

Three members the black congressional caucus — a group of African-American lawmakers — raised concerns and 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 lawmakers Bennie Thompson, Cedric Richmond and Sheila Jackson Lee.

However, there were two white men among the injured.