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Boston attack: Swath of city on lockdown as police scour for additional bombs

Bomb attack in Boston that killed two and injured scores of others prompts a thorough police search for unexploded devices. One was already found and rendered harmless. Experts cite hard-to-detect nature of the bombs.

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“The challenge with these smaller-scale attacks is that they are much harder to detect in the early stages – precisely because they don’t require much sophistication, planning, or leadership, funding, or financing,” he adds.

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The more sophisticated an attack, the more ambitious, and the more requirement for movement of money and safe houses for operatives and communications, all of which can hit FBI and other tripwires, says Dr. Flynn.

“The smaller-scale attacks like this require much less coordination, resources, and people – so it’s more difficult to ensnare them in their preparation stages,” he notes. “Still, this is clearly more than a 'lone wolf' attack. We may be dealing with a small group of people, perhaps three or four people, but not the type of thing we saw after 9/11 – discovering [Al Qaeda leader Osama] bin Laden and a large group of operatives coming in from far away.”

President Obama was cautious about describing the attack, not using the word terrorism but implying that it could have been perpetrated by a group rather than a lone individual.

“We still do not know who did this or why,” Mr. Obama said in televised remarks just after 6 p.m. “But make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this.” He said that "any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”

Similarly, Davis of the Boston Police said, “we’re not being definitive” about the word terrorism. “You can reach your own conclusions,” he added in his initial press briefing of the afternoon.

Obama noted that the attacks took place on a day when runners from around the world put Boston in the global spotlight, and on a state holiday – Patriots Day – that celebrates the idea of liberty.

According to news reports, the number of people injured in the two finish-line blasts approached 100.

“On days like this, there are no Republicans or Democrats. We are Americans united in concern for our fellow citizens,” Mr. Obama said. He said all Americans would "say a prayer for Boston."

The attack in Boston prompted heightened security in other cities.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement confirming the "stepped up security" at what he termed "strategic locations and critical infrastructure, including our subways." Mr. Bloomberg said some of the deployments would be noticeable, such as bomb-hardened vehicles, and other steps might be less noticeable. All 1,000 counterterrorism police as well as the entire NYPD "are being fully mobilized to protect our city," he said.

The Associated Press reported that in Britain, police are reviewing security plans for Sunday's London Marathon. And some major airports as far away as California ramped up their vigilance against possible threats.

Staff writer Ron Scherer in New York contributed to this report.

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Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

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