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Police make appeal to Austin bomber after fourth explosion in a month

Austin, Texas, is on edge after the fourth bombing there this month wounded two men late Sunday night. The latest bombing, triggered by a tripwire, differs from the previous three, which were package bombs. Judy Woodruff learns more from Syeda Hasan of KUT.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The capital city of Texas is on edge tonight, after a fourth bombing this month. Two people were wounded in the latest explosion last night.

    Syeda Hasan of Austin's NPR station, KUT, is covering the story, and she spoke to us a short while ago.

    Syeda Hasan, thank you very much for talking with us.

    What can you tell us about what's known about what happened?

  • SYEDA HASAN, KUT:

    This latest explosion happened late Sunday night, and we know that this explosive device was different than the previous three we have seen.

    It wasn't a package bomb. It was actually triggered by a trip wire that was placed along the side of a road, and these two young men who were the victims, both in their 20s, were walking along the side of that road in this residential neighborhood in Southwest Austin, when they tripped that wire and set off the explosive device.

    We know that both of those men did suffer injuries, non-life-threatening injuries. They were transported to the hospital, and they're said to be in good condition at this point.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And what are police saying about a connection possibly between this bombing and the other ones?

  • SYEDA HASAN:

    Police are saying that they're operating under the assumption that this latest explosion is related to the previous three that we have seen throughout Austin since March 2. There is a lot we don't know at this point, but they're operating under the assumption as that investigation moves forward.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But it's not because of any particular evidence?

  • SYEDA HASAN:

    Not at — I haven't heard it tied to those bombings because of any particular evidence.

    I haven't really heard police express the rationale behind that, but I think just the proximity of this to those other explosions certainly calls that into question. But, you know, there aspects of this explosion that are very different. All of the previous three explosions have been packages that were left outside of people's doorsteps, and they were triggered by folks handling those packages in some way.

    And because of that reason, they seemed to target those folks specifically, whereas this trip wire was really set in a way to where it could have been set off by anybody and it really could have harmed and affected anybody that came across it.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And police made an unusual appeal directly to the attacker?

  • SYEDA HASAN:

    That's right.

    Yesterday, chief Brian Manley at a press conference told the attacker that investigators are interested in talking with them. They implored the attacker or attackers to reach out to investigators and talk with them and help them understand what kind of message this person or persons is trying to send through these attacks.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And, finally, Syeda, how is the community dealing with this? What are people saying? What are they — how are they expressing their concern?

  • SYEDA HASAN:

    I think that a lot of folks are looking for answers. When these official attacks happened, you know, people knew to be aware of suspicious packages. Police really spread the word about that, for people to not pick up suspicious packages or any kind of items that may look out of place.

    But, as of now, I think that the nature of these attacks is really difficult to predict with something like a trip wire being set up in a residential neighborhood. So I know that there is a lot of concern, folks looking for answers, and authorities are just encouraging people to, again, report anything suspicious they come across, whether it be a package or a bag or a backpack of some sort, and be aware of their surroundings.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Syeda Hasan with station KUT there in Austin, thank you very much.

  • SYEDA HASAN:

    Thank you.

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