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Locals reclaim Boston bomb blast zone

People stand at a barricade blocking a still-closed section of Boylston Street in Boston on April 23, 2013
People stand at a barricade blocking a still-closed section of Boylston Street near the site of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 23, 2013.

With a sigh of relief, Boston merchants and residents forced to evacuate after last week's marathon bombings, started reclaiming their neighborhood Tuesday from investigators probing the attack.

As authorities said the number of people wounded in the twin blasts had risen to 264, more details emerged about the ethnic Chechen brothers accused of carrying out the bombings, as investigators work to piece together a motive.

But in the downtown Back Bay district including Boylston Street, site of the marathon finish line and the blasts that left three dead and more than 260 wounded, the focus was on regaining a sense of normalcy after a hellish week.

"I feel a lot of excitement to get back home," said Clare Gross, who has been living with in-laws for the past week.

Boston marathon bombing suspects
Profiles of the two brothers suspected of carrying out the twin bomb attacks on the Boston marathon.

Gross recounted that on the day of the blasts, she was evacuated in a matter of seconds, and left home wearing only slippers and a T-shirt.

"I even left the TV on," she told AFP.

The re-populating of several evacuated blocks of Boylston Street -- one per hour -- is being done in a staggered fashion and will be finished later Tuesday, city officials said.

Ted Borash, who runs a print shop, said agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation had accompanied him back into his business -- located just 30 yards (meters) from the site of the second blast -- four days ago to check for explosives.

"It was an eerie feeling. I lost a lot of money but it is not important," he said of his forced closure.

City officials say some 400 shops and companies have signed up to receive financial assistance in the wake of the bombings.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old who was captured Friday after a massive citywide manhunt, has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and could face the death penalty if convicted.

His 26-year-old brother Tamerlan was killed last week in a shootout with police a few days after the bombings -- the worst terror attack on civilians in the US since the suicide airliner strikes of September 11, 2001.

News media wait outside the home where Katherine Tsarnaeva is staying April 23, 2013 in North Kingstown, Rhode Island
News media wait outside the home of Warren and Judith Russell, where their daughter Katherine Tsarnaeva, the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, is staying April 23, 2013 in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.

The younger brother was arraigned in his hospital bed, where he is recovering from gunshot wounds. His health was apparently improving -- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on Tuesday listed his condition as fair.

Investigators are looking into whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev was radicalized or trained during a trip last year to Russia's troubled regions of Dagestan and his native Chechnya, where separatist rebels are active.

FBI agents "were monitoring him (Tamerlan) -- and I know that because I used to talk to them. They used to come to our house, like two, three times," the suspects' mother Zubeidat Tsarnaeva told Britain's Channel 4 News.

At home in the United States, the Tsarnaev brothers only occasionally attended Muslim prayers in the Boston-area town of Cambridge, but the elder man was known for interrupting sermons, the mosque said Tuesday.

Twice in recent months, Tamerlan interrupted sermons, once because Muslims were being told it was OK to celebrate American holidays like Thanksgiving. He was reprimanded and told to keep quiet during sermons, and he ultimately complied, said the Islamic Society of Boston.

Pallbearers carry the casket of slain MIT police officer Sean Collier April 23, 2013 in Stoneham, Massachusetts
Pallbearers carry the casket of slain Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) police officer Sean Collier into the hearse following the funeral at St Patrick's Church on April 23, 2013 in Stoneham, Massachusetts.

Investigators have meanwhile gleaned an enormous amount of evidence from the two blast sites, including remains of the pressure cookers used to make the explosive devices, the Boston Globe cited police chief Ed Davis as saying.

"A week ago, our city took a deep breath and was forced to dive into a pool of uncertainty and fear," Mayor Thomas Menino said in a statement.

"Friday, as our officers reported to the world 'we got him', a huge sigh of relief was felt across our great city and nation. So now it is time for us to start moving our city forward."

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