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Wednesday, January 31, 2007
By John R. Ellement, Mac Daniel, and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
The discovery of a series of suspicious objects on bridges, near a medical center, underneath an interstate, and in other crowded public places have set off a wave of bomb scares across Boston, snarling traffic and subways across the city.
None of the suspicious objects have been determined to be actual bombs. It was not immediately clear if the incidents were connected or part of some elaborate hoax.
A law enforcement source who has been briefed on the investigation said officials have found "commonality" among some, but not all, of the objects recovered by Boston, state and transit police throughout the day.
None of the objects examined by police actually contained explosives, the source said.
Governor Deval Patrick told the Associated Press: "It's a hoax -- and it's not funny."
Investigators have found that at least two of the packages that were similar -- both were composed of electronic circuit boards with LED lights attached. No one has called to claim responsibility for any of the items, the law enforcement source said.
The source said it appears the object scrutinized by State Police on the Longfellow Bridge may not be connected to the packages with electronic equipment. The item on the Longfellow Bridge may have been something left behind some time ago by a bridge maintenance crew.
The Coast Guard has closed the Charles River to all water traffic from the Museum of Science to the locks where the river flows into Boston Harbor because of the reports of bombs on several bridges, according to Chief Petty Officer Scott Carr.
This afternoon, investigators found a device on the BU Bridge today "similar to the Sullivan Square" package that forced the closure this morning of northbound Interstate 93, said Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for state fire marshal Stephen Coan, whose office oversees the State police Bomb Squad.
Like the item found at the Sullivan Square station, the BU package was attached to the underpinnings of the bridge.
"It was not an explosive device," she said of the suspicious item found on the BU Bridge.
State police bomb experts examined another suspicious item -- similar in construction to the items found at Sullivan Station and on the BU Bridge -- that was found attached to the Longfellow Bridge, which spans the Charles River from Boston to Cambridge.
Boston police are separately investigating suspicious items at Columbus and Stuart streets and near the New England Medical Center.
Storrow drive was closed at 2 p.m., according to State Police. Thirty minutes later police opened one eastbound lane to traffic.
According to Boston police, traffic from Charles Street is being blocked from entering Storrow Drive while several law enforcement agencies investigate more suspicious objects.
The MBTA suspended service on the Red Line for about 15 minutes between Park and Kendall stations. By 2:35 p.m., the T resumed service on the line.
Posted by the Boston Globe City & Region Desk at 03:43 PM