On Christmas morning, urgent warning announcements echoed from a motor home through downtown Nashville, a little later the vehicle explodes and causes massive property damage. Despite a last-minute evacuation, at least three people are slightly injured. The US Federal Police FBI is investigating the incident in Nashville, Tennessee. According to the police, the mobile home was apparently used as a car bomb on Friday, Christmas Day. The background to the act was still unclear.
Pictures from the location of the explosion showed damaged houses, burned out cars and debris on the street. After the detonation, photographs showed several fires; a rising black column of smoke was visible from afar. Photos also showed broken windows in buildings farther away from the explosion. Mayor John Cooper spoke of “catastrophic damage”.
At least 41 stores were damaged, he said. “The attack earlier this morning was aimed at this [weihnachtlichen] Time of peace and hope to spread chaos and fear, ”said Cooper.
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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. “It looks like a bomb has exploded,” he said on local television. A police spokesman also stated that it was apparently a bomb.
The explosion damaged a building belonging to the communications company AT&T, which caused telephone and data connections to fail in some areas in the region. Nashville Airport had to temporarily shut down due to communication problems.
Police chief John Drake said officers came to the scene early that morning after reports of alleged gunfire. Then, announcements began, apparently from the mobile home, with which all residents were asked to evacuate because of an impending explosion. A 15-minute countdown began, and music came from the loudspeaker in between.
“The person wanted to destroy, not hurt”
The six officers at the scene called the police bombing unit and went door to door urging residents to get to safety. 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 do not want to speculate, but one would suspect that this person did not want to harm, but to destroy.”
Mayor Cooper said he was talking to the governor to declare a disaster in the affected area so that additional resources could be mobilized for reconstruction. Now it is time for “determination to catch the perpetrators and rebuild our city,” he said.
Dozens of users in social networks had taken photos and videos showing black smoke over the city center after the explosion at around 6:30 a.m. A reporter from the local broadcaster WKRN tweeted a video that gives an overview of the situation after the explosion:
Incumbent US President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden have been separately informed of the explosion, their offices said. Both thanked the rescue workers and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
With almost 700,000 inhabitants, Nashville is the capital of the state of Tennessee in the southern United States. Because of its many live music bars and record labels, it is considered the center of country music and is also called “Music City”. (dpa)