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Obama phones Boston mayor, Mass. governor to offer aid after blasts

Olivier Knox, Yahoo News
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President Barack Obama on the phone with FBI Director Robert Mueller to receive an update on the explosions that …

President Barack Obama telephoned Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to express concern for those wounded in a pair of explosions that ripped through the crowd near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday. Obama also offered Washington's help in the investigation and response to the incident. Boston police said two people were killed and 23 injured, amid news reports that the blasts were bomb attacks.

“Shortly after being notified of the incident around 3 p.m. EDT, the president received a briefing from Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco and other members of his senior White House staff in the Oval Office," a White House official told reporters on condition of anonymity. "The president called Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to express his concern for those who were injured and to make clear that his administration is ready to provide needed support as they respond to the incident.”

Obama received briefings from FBI Director Robert Mueller and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, an aide said.

Vice President Joe Biden, speaking on a conference call with gun control advocates, reacted to television images of blood and panic on the streets of Boston, saying "apparently there has been a bombing."

"I don’t know any of the details," Biden said in a shocked voice. "Our prayers are with those people in Boston who have suffered injury. I don’t know how many there are."

The vice president was reacting solely to the images on television and his comments did not reflect an official finding of the causes of the carnage in Boston, an aide said.

"The president has been notified of the incident in Boston," a White House official said earlier on condition of anonymity. "His administration is in contact with state and local authorities. He directed his administration to provide whatever assistance is necessary in the investigation and response."

At the White House, authorities used yellow police tape to block off Pennsylvania Avenue that runs right outside the White House gates. Secret Service moved to secure the expanded perimeter, while credentialed pass holders were directed to exit through the adjacent Eisenhower Executive Office Building gates, not the usual White House gates.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we have expanded our security perimeter at the White House complex. It is not unusual to expand or contract these security perimeters," U.S. Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said.

Rachel Hartman contributed to this report.

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