Bombs that targeted the Boston Marathon on Monday may have been packed in pressure cookers, investigators say.

Images from a joint Homeland Security and FBI bulletin show the remains of a dark backpack, a detonation device and mangled pieces of metal.
Three people were killed and more than 170 injured when two bombs exploded near the finish line of Monday’s race.

Those who died were an eight-year-old boy, a woman aged 29 and a postgraduate student from China.

The BBC’s Paul Adams, in Boston, says vigils for the victims were held across the city on Tuesday night as Bostonians still wrestled with why anyone would want to attack their much-loved marathon.

President Barack Obama will travel to Boston on Thursday for a memorial.

‘Someone knows’

FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers told a news conference that pieces of nylon had been recovered from the scene, along with fragments of ball bearings and nails that were “possibly contained in a pressure-cooker device”.

He said they were being sent to the agency’s laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, where experts would reconstruct the devices to determine their make-up and components.

He added: “The investigation is in its infancy. There are no claims of responsibility and the range of suspects and motives remains wide open.”

Mr DesLauriers urged people to report anyone they had seen acting suspiciously.

“Someone knows who did this,” he said.

Associated Press quoted a source close to the investigation as saying that the bombs consisted of explosives placed in 1.6-gallon pressure cookers, one with shards of metal and ball bearings, the other with nails.

The bombs were put into black bags and left on the ground, the source said.

Our correspondent says it has also been reported that a circuit board and battery pack – parts of a triggering mechanism – were also recovered.

Doctors treating the wounded say their injuries indicate that the bombs contained metal shards and other shrapnel. A number of victims have had limbs amputated.

Speaking at the same news conference, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said the Boston community would “recover and heal” from the attack.

“This is one community. We are all in this together,” he said.

President Obama will address an interfaith service in Boston for the victims on Thursday morning.

The White House said Mr Obama had cancelled a planned trip to Kansas to speak.

Earlier, President Obama condemned the bombings as a terrorist act.

He said the attack was “heinous and cowardly” but stressed it was not yet known whether an organisation – either domestic or foreign – or a “malevolent individual” was responsible, nor what the motive might have been.

“Everything else at this point is speculation,” he said.

“It will take time… but we will find whoever harmed our citizens and we will bring them to justice.”

One of those who died has been named as eight-year-old Martin Richard, from the Dorchester area of Boston.

He was at the finishing line with his mother and sister, who were both seriously injured.

“They were looking in the crowd as the runners were coming to see if they could identify some of their friends when the bomb hit,” Congressman Stephen Lynch, a friend of the Richard family, told Associated Press.

Flowers and tributes were being placed outside the family’s home on Tuesday.

A second victim was named as Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager.

Her mother, Patty, shaking with emotion, told reporters that “you couldn’t ask for a better daughter”.

“Everybody who knew her loved her… she had a heart of gold. This doesn’t make any sense.”

Boston University said the third person who died was a graduate student. In a statement on Tuesday,

The Chinese consulate in New York confirmed that the student who died was a Chinese national. “At the request of her family, the victim’s personal information will not be disclosed,” said a statement from the consulate.

She has been identified, however, by a Hong Kong TV channel which said she was from Shenyang in north-east China.

The university said she was with two friends watching the race near the finish line. One of the friends, named as Zhou Danling by Chinese TV, was said to be in a stable condition in hospital.

The consulate said it was providing “all necessary assistance” to the two families.

The first explosion went off close to the finish line at about 14:50 local time (18:50 GMT) on Monday.

Seconds later, as rescuers were rushing to help the injured, another explosion went off nearby.

Speaking at an earlier press conference, Mr DesLauriers moved to reassure the public, saying there was no longer any “known imminent physical threat” to Boston.

“We will go to the ends of the Earth to identify the subject or subjects who are responsible for this despicable crime, and we will do everything we can to bring them to justice,” he said.

Police have asked the public to send in any videos or photographs they may have from the day.

The London Marathon – the next major international marathon – is to go ahead on Sunday, with police saying they have well-rehearsed security plans.

Organisers have said they will hold a 30-second silence at the start as a mark of respect.