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Search for answers underway in Boston

Boston Globe via Getty Images)

As is always the case in developments like these, many of the preliminary details heard after the explosions at the Boston Marathon yesterday afternoon were incorrect. But as time has passed, and officials have been able to get a better grip on the available information, we're better able to separate fact from fiction.

Two powerful bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon, killing three people, including an 8-year-old child, and injuring more than 100, as one of this city's most cherished rites of spring was transformed from a scene of cheers and sweaty triumph to one of screams and carnage.

Almost three-quarters of the 23,000 runners who participated in the race had already crossed the finish line when a bomb that had apparently been placed in a garbage can exploded around 2:50 p.m. in a haze of smoke amid a crowd of spectators on Boylston Street, just off Copley Square in the heart of the city. Thirteen seconds later, another bomb exploded several hundred feet away.

As of last night, the FBI's Richard DesLauriers, who leads the bureau's Boston office, described the inquiry at a news conference as "a criminal investigation that is a potential terrorist investigation."

Though there had been some reports to the contrary, officials insisted last night that there is no suspect in custody. There's been quite a bit of speculation surrounding a foreign man, in the United States on a student visa, who was injured in the blast and was interviewed by law enforcement at a nearby hospital. But it's too soon to know whether he had any involvement in the attack.

What's more, there's been considerable interest in the calendar -- as the New York Times noted, this is a week that "has sometimes been seen as significant for radical American antigovernment groups." Yesterday, for example, was Tax Day nationwide and Patriots' Day in Massachusetts. This week is also the anniversary of the 1993 raid on the Branch Davidians in Waco, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, Hitler's birthday, and the massacre at Columbine High School.

But, again, whether this is a coincidence or not remains unclear.

Answers will come, but the process will take time.