Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 12.07.53 PMThree college students (two shown in the photo with Tsarnaev) have been arrested by federal authorities in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings, a law enforcement official familar with the case said this morning.

The Boston police Web page said that three additional “suspects” had been taken into custody. It emphasized that there was no threat to public safety.

The three people were connected to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, the surviving bomb suspect, at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Tsarnaev was a student. They allegedly helped him after the bombing, a different source told the Globe.

“Additional details will be provided when they become available,” police said in a statement. No news conference was scheduled. Neither the FBI nor the US attorney’s office in Boston immediately had a comment.

Tsarnaev is facing federal charges of using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death in the twin bombings that struck near the Marathon finish line on April 15.

His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a confrontation with police in Watertown several days afterward as the two tried to flee the area. Police say they were trying to subdue him when his brother ran him over in a desperate escape.

Authorities say the two also killed an MIT police officer as they tried to escape. No charges have been filed yet in that case.

The White House and law enforcement authorities have previously suggested that the Tsarnaevs may have acted alone without clear ties to foreign governments or terrorist groups.

But investigators have continued to eye other people who knew the brothers to see if they provided them with any help before or after the attacks. Shortly after the brothers were identified, investigators questioned three college friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in New Bedford, two of whom have been detained on charges they overstayed their student visas.

The latter two, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, Kazakh nationals, appeared before a federal immigration judge this morning. Their lawyers said they were unaware of any criminal charges against them.

FBI officers have also questioned Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s widow, Katherine Russell, for hours to find out what she knows about the plot. Investigators were seen leaving her parents’ home, where Russell has been staying, with bags on Monday.

FBI agents also wanted to collect a DNA sample from Russell to compare with female DNA found on a bomb fragment. The female DNA also could have come from many other sources, including a store clerk who sold some of the raw ingredients in the bomb or a spectator at the race. Russell’s attorney said both she and her family were shocked by the events and are doing everything they can to cooperate with law enforcement.

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