Nightly News   |  April 21, 2013

In Russia, suspected bombers' friends, family struggle to understand

In the mountainous region of Dagestan, relatives and friends of the suspected Boston bombers are in shock that two of their own may have been responsible for the marathon bombings. NBC’s Adrienne Mong reports.

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>>> as authorities search for answers, they are turning more of their attention to a trip the older brother made last year to the russian republics of chechnya and dagestan , both mainly muslim, both are militant separatist movements. tonight nbc's adrian mong is in dagestan in the neighborhood where some of the suspect's family lives.

>> reporter: a long way from boston in this remote mountainous city in dagestan in the northern caucasus , relatives and friends of the suspected bomb remembers in shock over news that two of their own may be responsible for the marathon bombings.

>> translator: i don't believe it but only allah knows, says an uncle of the brothers. tamerl tamerlan tsarnaev visited him last year. neighbors here on street tell us they have a hard time believing what happened because they say the suspect's father is a good man. but the neighbors also say they haven't met the sons. dagestan is the russian federation 's oldest, largest and most ethnically diverse islamic republic . its population of almost 3 million predominantly muslim has in recent years come under increased scrutiny by russian authorities. "they started closing our mosques and taking away our books," says this civil rights activist . dagestan has attracted rebels from neighboring chechnya , hoping to spread a pan islamic separatist movement across the north caucasus region. investigators are still looking into whether tamerlan had any connection to militants in either dagestan or chechnya . adrian mong, nbc news, dagestan .