WATERTOWN, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Police killed one of two Chechen brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings in a late-night shootout and waves of officers descended on a leafy city suburb in a house-to-house search for the second man.
After a bloody night of shooting and explosions in the streets, details emerged on Friday about the brothers, including their origins in the predominantly Muslim regions of Russia's Caucasus which have experienced two decades of violence since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Officials identified the hunted man as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, and said the dead suspect was his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26. The fugitive described himself on a social network site as a minority from a region which includes Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia.
A man who described himself as an uncle of the two men said they came to the United States in the early 2000s to the Cambridge, Massachusetts area.
"I say what I think what's behind it -- being losers," the uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, told reporters. "Not being able to settle themselves and thereby hating everyone who did."
Tsarni said he had not spoken to the brothers since 2009.
He said Monday's bombings on the finish line of the word-famous Boston Marathon that killed 3 people and injured 176 "put a shame on our family. It put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity."
Monday's explosions put Boston and other major U.S. cities on edge. The bombings, described by President Barack Obama as "an act of terrorism" reminded the country of the suicide plane hijackings of September 11, 2001.
Authorities cordoned off a section of the suburb of Watertown and told residents not to leave their homes or answer the door as officers in combat gear scoured a 20-block area for the missing man, who was described as armed and dangerous.
Massachusetts state police Colonel Timothy Alben told reporters on Friday afternoon that the manhunt has covered 60 percent to 70 percent of the search area. Two Black Hawk helicopters circled the area. Amtrak announced that it was suspending its train service between Boston and New York indefinitely.
Boston came to a virtual standstill after authorities urged everyone to stay at home.
The events elicited a response from Moscow condemning terrorism and from the Russian-installed leader of Chechnya, who criticized police in Boston for killing an ethnic Chechen and blamed the violence on his upbringing in the United States.
"They grew up and studied in the United States and their attitudes and beliefs were formed there," Ramzan Kadyrov said in comments posted online. "Any attempt to make a connection between Chechnya and the Tsarnaevs is in vain."
The brothers had been in the United States for several years and were believed to be legal immigrants, according to U.S. government sources. Neither had been known as a potential security threat, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said on Friday.
A Russian language social networking site bearing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's name paid tribute to Islamic websites and to those calling for Chechen independence. The author identified himself as a 2011 graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, a public school in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
He said he went to primary school in Makhachkala, capital of Dagestan, a province in Russia that borders on Chechnya, and listed his languages as English, Russian and Chechen.
His "World view" was listed as "Islam" and his "Personal priority" as "career and money."
He posted links to videos of fighters in the Syrian civil war and to Islamic web pages with titles such as "Salamworld, my religion is Islam" and "There is no God but Allah, let that ring out in our hearts."
He also had links to pages calling for independence for Chechnya, a region of Russia that lost its bid for independence after two wars in the 1990s.
Video posted on NJ.com showed a woman who described herself as a sister of the suspects.
"I'm not OK, just like anyone else is not OK," she told reporters from behind the closed door of an apartment in West New York, New Jersey:
She said the older brother "was a great person. He was a kind and loving man. To piss life away, just like he pissed others' life awayâ€¦"
She said of the younger brother, "He's a child."
In Watertown, the lockdown cleared the streets for police. The events stunned the leafy suburb, a wooded former mill town that has a large Russian-speaking community. Officers raced from one site to the next in their house-to-house search.
During the night, a university police officer was killed, a transit police officer was wounded, and the suspects carjacked a vehicle before leading police on a chase that led to Tamerlan Tsarnaev being shot dead.
"During the exchange of the gunfire, we believe that one of the suspects was struck and ultimately taken into custody," Col. Alben said. "A second suspect was able to flee from that car and there is an active search going on at this point in time."
The wounded man died of multiple injuries including gunshot wounds and trauma that may have been caused by an explosion, said Dr. Richard Wolfe, chief of emergency medicine.
The younger Tsarnaev was previously known only as Suspect 2, shown wearing a white cap in surveillance pictures taken shortly before Monday's explosions and released by the FBI on Thursday.
"We believe this to be a terrorist," said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. "We believe this to be a man who has come here to kill people. We need to get him in custody."
The older brother, previously known as Suspect 1, was seen wearing a dark cap and sunglasses in the FBI images.
The FBI said they believed the twin blasts were caused by bombs in pressure cookers and carried in backpacks that were left near the marathon finish line as thousands of spectators gathered.
(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, Alex Dobuzinskis, David Bailey, Peter Graff, Stephanie Simon, Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Aaron Pressman, Daniel Lovering and Ben Berkowitz; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Grant McCool; Editing by David Storey and Doina Chiacu)
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