US authorities have warned the residents of Austin not to open suspicious packages after at least two people were killed by parcel bombs. The police said they believed the three recent blasts were connected.
The US city of Austin has been rocked by three parcel bombs in the last 10 days, two of which exploded on Monday, police said.
"We are imploring the community, if you know anything about these attacks, it is imperative that you come forward," Austin police chief Brian Manley told a news conference.
The first bomb on March 2 killed a 39-year-old man, while the first of the Monday blasts claimed the life of a 17-year-old boy. Both victims were African-Americans. The blast that killed the teenager also injured a woman living at the same address, while another parcel bomb on Monday severely injured an elderly Hispanic woman.
Race as a possible motive
The 75-year-old woman, like the previous victims, apparently found the package at her front door.
"And she picked up that package and at that point, the explosion — the box — detonated," Manley said.
"Based on evidence that we have at this scene, as well as at the other two scenes where we've had these explosions, this evidence makes us believe that these incidents are related," he told reporters.
Manley did not rule out the possibility that the victims were targeted over their race.
"We have had two victims that were African-American, and the victim of this latest incident was a 75-year-old Hispanic female. So, we are still working to identify whether or not that may play a role, but we are not going to rule that out," he said.
'DO NOT open it'
Authorities believe the explosive parcels were not delivered through the mail, but brought directly to the front doors of victims living in different regions of the city. The police have warned citizens against opening strange packages.
"If you receive a package that you are not expecting or looks suspicious, DO NOT open it," Manley said on Twitter.
The FBI is assisting the Austin police in their investigation, and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said it would send a team to work with local authorities.
dj/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa)