MOSCOW — U.S. investigators traveled to southern Russia on Tuesday to speak to the parents of the two Boston bombing suspects, a U.S. Embassy official said.
The parents of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are in Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim province in Russia's Caucasus, where Islamic militants have waged an insurgency against Russian security sources for years.
The trip by the U.S. team was made possible because of Russian government cooperation with the FBI investigation into the bombing at the Boston Marathon, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak publicly.
The brothers are accused of setting off the bombs that killed three people and wounded more than 180 others on April 15. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a police shootout, while his 19-year-old brother was captured alive but badly wounded.
The embassy official said he could not confirm whether the U.S. investigators had already talked to the parents.
But a lawyer for the family said Tuesday that the parents had just seen pictures of the mutilated body of their elder son and were not up to speaking with anyone at the moment.
"Naturally, the parents are not ready to meet with anyone because the grief is enormous." Zaurbek Sadakhanov told a crowd of journalist in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan. "They ... are asking to be left alone, at least for a while, to be able to recover. As to the case, I think that detectives and policemen in the United States are knowledgeable and will find out what happened in an objective and unbiased way."
The suspects' mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, wearing a long black dress and bright yellow headscarf, appeared publicly outside her home for the first time since her sons were named as the bombing suspects. She was ushered past journalists and into a taxi, which sped away.
Heda Saratova, a human rights activist, also asked for the family to be left alone. "The mother is in very bad shape," Saratova said. "She watches the video (of her dead son) and cries."
The mother is from Dagestan, while the suspects' father is from neighboring Chechnya. Their sons had spent little time in either place before the family moved to the U.S. a decade ago, but the elder son was in Russia for six months last year.
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