BOSTON — The Boston Police Department announced on Wednesday that three additional suspects were taken into custody in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing.
The suspects are said to be three college friends of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving bombing suspect who remains in a prison hospital.
An anonymous source told The Boston Globe that the three were thought to have aided Tsarnaev, who survived a massive manhunt and shootout with police, in the aftermath of the bombing. Three people were killed and at least 260 others injured in the twin blasts near the marathon's finish line on April 15.
Two of the suspects, identified as Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, allegedly removed a backpack "containing fireworks emptied of gunpowder" from Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth three days after the April 15 attack, according to the FBI criminal complaint recommending charges against the three men.
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The complaint also said the FBI has "probable cause to believe" a third suspect, identified as Robel Phillipos, intentionally made false statements to federal investigators.
The Associated Press reported that Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev are from Kazakhstan. In an unrelated incident, the two men appeared before a federal immigration judge on Wednesday, on allegations that they violated their student visas.
Defense lawyers argued against a Department of Homeland Security prosecutor that Tazhayakov was still enrolled in college, and therefore not inviolation of his visa. They said Kadyrbayev should be released and allowed to leave the country.
The men's lawyers said they cooperated with Homeland Security and FBI investigators, according to The Globe.
NBC News reported that the three suspects were under surveillance by the FBI before the arrests.
Tsarnaev is currently facing federal charges of using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death.
His older brother, Tamerlan, was killed in a shootout with police in Watertown, MA, on the Friday following the attack. The AP reported that Tamerlan's body will be released to his side of the family after Katherine Russell, his widow, expressed her wishes to turn his body over to them.
The Tsarnaev brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia, who had been living in the United States for more than a decade. Dzhokhar is an American citizen, while Tamerlan came under FBI scrutiny when the Russian intelligence agency flagged him for review. Tamerlan's visit to the restive region of Dagestan in Russia last year has been the focus for investigators trying to determine if he was indoctrinated or received training there.