Police link two deadly package bombs in Austin, Texas, to earlier attack

AUSTIN, Texas, March 12 (Reuters) - Two package bombs left outside homes in Austin, Texas, exploded on Monday, killing a teenager and injuring two women in attacks that police linked to a deadly blast earlier this month.

The latest bombings came as the Texas capital hosted its annual South by Southwest music, technology and film festival downtown. The victims in all three cases were African-American or Hispanic, and police said they were examining the attacks as possible hate crimes.

In each of the three attacks, a cardboard package was left at the front of a private residence and exploded after an unwitting victim picked it up or tried to open it, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley told reporters.

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Deadly package explosions in Texas
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Deadly package explosions in Texas
The doorway of a home that was hit with a fatal parcel bomb on March 2, 2018 is seen boarded-up in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jon Herskovitz
Isaac Machado hides behind his hat against his mother Delores just outside the scene of an explosion. Police investigators are at the home where a 17-year-old boy was killed and a woman injured in a package bomb explosion in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Police and FBI officers guards the scene of an explosion in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
An FBI agent exits her car after arriving at the scene of an explosion near north Galindo street. Police investigators are at the home where a 17-year-old boy was killed and a woman injured in a package bomb explosion in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Katelyn Ferguson, 20, gives an interview outside her home, up the street from where a woman was injured in a package bomb explosion in Austin in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
An FBI agent walks towards the crime scene after exiting her car, arriving at the scene of an explosion near north Galindo street. Police investigators are at the home where a 17-year-old boy was killed and a woman injured in a package bomb explosion in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Austin Fire Department personnel attend the scene of a package explosion in the 6700 block of Galindo Street in east Austin, Texas, U.S. March 12, 2018. Austin Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
An FBI agent exits her car after arriving at the scene of an explosion near north Galindo street. Police investigators are at the home where a 17-year-old boy was killed and a woman injured in a package bomb explosion in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Isiah Guerrero, 15, gives an interview to the media in the neighbourhood of the scene of an explosion. Police investigators are at the home where a 17-year-old boy was killed and a woman injured in a package bomb explosion in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Police chief Brian Manley speaks during a news conference near the scene where a woman was injured in a package bomb explosion in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
The doorway of a home that was hit with a fatal parcel bomb on March 2, 2018 is seen boarded-up in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jon Herskovitz
Police and federal agents walk away from a news conference near the scene where a woman was injured in a package bomb explosion in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2018.REUTERS/Sergio Flores
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The packages that exploded on Monday were not delivered by any mainstream commercial shipping services, such as Federal Express or United Parcel Service, Manley said.

"We are looking at these incidents as being related," Manley said, adding that federal investigators had joined the search for suspects and a possible motive.

"We cannot rule out that hate crime is at the core of this, but we are not saying that that is the cause," Manley told a news conference.

He warned residents to watch out for boxes left outside their homes and to report anything suspicious to police.

The first explosion, on March 2, killed a 39-year-old black man at a house in the city's Harris Ridge neighborhood, which is home to technology companies and about 12 miles northeast of downtown. The blast was powerful enough to blew out walls at the home's entryway.

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A 17-year-old African-American boy died on Monday when he found a package outside his house in east Austin and brought it into the kitchen of his home, where it exploded, Manley said.

A woman in her 40s was in the home and injured by the blast, although she was expected to survive, police said.

A second explosion, about 4 miles (6 km) away in southeastern Austin, injured a 75-year-old woman in the predominantly working-class Hispanic community of Montopolis, police said. A neighbor, Brandon Rendon, told Reuters the victim was in a wheelchair watering her grass before the blast occurred.

Monday's attacks unfolded as the city was thronged by visitors to the South by Southwest Festival. On Monday afternoon, London Mayor Sadiq Khan delivered a keynote address at the event, which draws hundreds of thousands of people to the city each year.

Manley said the bombings posed no threat to the festival, but he urged visitors to remain vigilant.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Hay; Editing by Tom Brown and Peter Cooney)

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