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updated: 4/24/2013 9:42 AM

U.S. team speaking to suspects' parents in Russia

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  • Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, mother of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the two men accused of setting off bombs near the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15, 2013 in Boston, walks near her home in Makhachkala, Dagestan, southern Russia, Tuesday, April 23, 2013.

      Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, mother of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the two men accused of setting off bombs near the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15, 2013 in Boston, walks near her home in Makhachkala, Dagestan, southern Russia, Tuesday, April 23, 2013.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

MAKHACHKALA, Russia -- U.S. investigators are in contact with the parents of the two Boston bombing suspects in southern Russia and working with Russian security officials to shed light on the deadly attack, a U.S. Embassy official said Wednesday.

The Americans traveled Tuesday from Moscow to the predominantly Muslim province of Dagestan "because the investigation is ongoing, it's not over," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. He said the U.S. team is working with the Russian security services, the FSB.

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"This is a horrible tragedy for our country, but one positive development might be closer cooperation on this set of issues with the Russian government," the embassy official said.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are accused of setting off the two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15. The elder brother was later killed in a police standoff.

Investigators are looking into whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who spent six months in Russia's Caucasus in 2012, was influenced by the religious extremists who have waged an insurgency against Russian security services in the area for years. The brothers have roots in Dagestan and neighboring Chechnya, but neither spent much time in either place before the family moved to the United States a decade ago.

On Wednesday, their mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, was inside the FSB building in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, where she was believed to be speaking further to U.S. and Russian investigators.

Heda Saratova, a prominent Chechen rights activist providing support to the distraught mother, said Tsarnaeva first went in for questioning on Tuesday, returning late at night. Saratova said she had no details about the discussions, but Tsarnaeva said they were "cordial."

The father, Anzor Tsarnaev, also was summoned to the FSB headquarters but did not go because he felt ill.

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