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Nashville: FBI investigates downtown explosion

The US Federal Police FBI is investigating the momentous explosion in Nashville, Tennessee. A mobile home exploded there on the morning of Christmas Day. Prior to this, urgent warning announcements and a countdown could be heard from the vehicle. Despite a last-minute evacuation, at least three people were slightly injured.

The mobile home was apparently used as a car bomb, the police said. The background to the act was still unclear.

In the meantime the extent of the destruction has become clearer. Photos also showed broken windows in buildings farther away. Water pipes burst, up to 20 house facades were badly damaged. The street was littered with branches and splinters of glass and blackened with soot.

At least 41 stores damaged

Mayor John Cooper spoke of “catastrophic damage.” At least 41 stores were damaged, he said. “The attack earlier this morning was aimed at creating chaos and fear in this time of peace and hope,” Cooper said, referring to the Christmas holidays.

The police cordoned off the city center to a large extent and used bomb detection dogs to search for explosives. On Friday evening (local time) Cooper imposed a curfew on the affected downtown area.

The explosion damaged a building belonging to the communications company AT&T. As a result, some telephone and data connections failed in the region. Nashville Airport temporarily ceased operations due to communication problems.

Human tissue found at the crime scene

Police chief John Drake gave further information on the course of the incident: officers came to the scene early in the morning after reports of alleged gunfire. Then announcements began, apparently from the motor home.

The Tennessean newspaper quoted witnesses as saying that a woman’s voice counted backwards. “Clear now. There’s a bomb there. There is a bomb in this vehicle and it will explode, ”said an eyewitness, echoing the eerie warning. Then, according to Drake, a 15-minute countdown began, with music playing from the loudspeaker in between.

The six officers at the scene called the police bombing unit, went door to door, urging residents to protect themselves. After the countdown was over, there was an explosion, Drake told journalists.

It was initially unclear whether there was anyone in the motor home. The police found human tissue at the scene, which is now being analyzed, said Drake. Regarding the warnings about the explosion, he said, “I don’t want to speculate, but one would suspect that this person did not want to injure but destroy.”

»Rebuild our city«

Mayor Cooper said he was talking to the governor to declare a disaster for the affected area. Now it is time for “determination to catch the perpetrators and rebuild our city,” he said.

The incumbent US President, Republican Donald Trump, and President-elect, Democrat Joe Biden, have been notified separately of the explosion, their offices said. Both thanked the rescue workers and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

Nashville has almost 700,000 inhabitants and is the capital of the state of Tennessee in the southern United States. Because of its many live music bars and record companies, it is considered the center of country music and is also called “Music City”.

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