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Mystery as fourth blast in three weeks hits Texas capital; police uncertain on connection


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Mystery as fourth blast in three weeks hits Texas capital; police uncertain on connection

Austin was on edge early Monday as an explosion injured two people and left police wondering whether the blast was related to three others that have already gripped the Texas capital in fear.

The latest blast occurred Sunday night in a suburban neighborhood known as Travis Country in southwest Austin at around 8:30 p.m. Investigators didn’t immediately confirm what caused it.

Austin police Chief Brian Manley said the explosion may have been detonated by a trip wire, adding the blast was “activated by someone either handling, kicking or coming into contact with a trip wire that activated the device.”

FBI agents work the scene of an explosion in Austin, Texas, Sunday, March 18, 2018. At least a few people were injured in another explosion in Texas' capital late Sunday, after three package bombs detonated this month in other parts of the city, killing two people and injuring two others. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

There was no immediate word on what caused the blast or if it was related to the three package bombs that were detonated earlier this month in other areas of Austin that left two people dead and two others injured.  (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Manley said that police were “working under the belief” that the explosion was related to the three others, but investigators still had yet to process the entire scene. He urged people within a half-a-mile radius to stay in their homes until at least daybreak.

"We want to put out the message that we've been putting out and that is, not only do not touch any packages or anything that looks like a package, do not even go near it at this time," Manley said at an earlier news conference. Because "we have not had an opportunity to look at this blast site to really determine what has happened."

A witness speaking to Fox 7 described hearing a "loud bang," adding that it was "not a car crash, not gunshots but something terrible."

Two men in their 20s suffered non-life threatening injuries in the blast. South Austin Medical Center officials said the men were in good condition.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said late Sunday he was confident authorities were going to find who is responsible for the string of “horrific” explosions, according to KVUE-TV.

A police vehicle blocks a road leading to the scene of an explosion, Sunday, March 18, 2018, in Austin, Texas. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

A witness speaking to Fox 7 described hearing a "loud bang," adding that it was "not a car crash, not gunshots but something terrible."  (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Sunday’s explosion was the fourth to rock Austin less than three weeks. However, the three previous blasts occurred on the eastside of the city.

The first was a package bomb that exploded at a northeast Austin home on March 2, killing a 39-year-old man. Two more package bombs then exploded farther south on March 12, killing a 17-year-old, wounding his mother and injuring a 75-year-old woman.

Police said all three of those were likely related and involved packages that had not been mailed or delivered by private carrier but left overnight on doorsteps.

Earlier Sunday, Austin police said the reward for information leading to an arrest in the deadly explosions has risen by $50,000 to a new total of $115,000. Manley said more than 500 officers, including federal agents, have conducted 236 interviews in following up 435 leads.

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