Police have said the large explosion that shook Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, on Christmas morning was an intentional act. There are no suspects at the moment and the incident is not assessed as a terror strike at the moment. However, the law enforcement is looking at aspects including sabotage after a vehicle exploded outside a restaurant in downtown Nashville.
The blast was felt miles away and caused significant damage in the area. Windows of homes and buildings in the vicinity shattered in the blast. Three people were injured and taken to hospital. Besides the ATF, the FBI is also investigating the incident.
On Twitter, the terror angle was discussed freely though the police have not called it so. Other theories doing the rounds included links to the drugs trade and the involvement of the 'left wing'. #Nashville terror attack on #Christmas also trended.
"It looks like a bomb went off," Nashville Mayor John Cooper said. Large-scale evacuations were on. The Nashville Fire Department asked residents to stay away from parked vans and trucks as they saw the possibility of more explosions.
"MNPD [Metropolitan Nashville police department], FBI & ATF investigating the 6:30am explosion on 2nd Ave N linked to a vehicle. This appears to have been an intentional act. Law enforcement is closing downtown streets as investigation continues," Nashville's metro police department said in a statement.
Police were alerted about a suspicious vehicle parked outside the AT&T building about 6 am, reports said. Even as the hazardous devices unit of the police reached the spot, the explosion happened. Remains of a recreational vehicle were seen at the spot of the blast.
"The explosion was significant, as you can see ... the police department, its federal partners — the FBI and ATF — are conducting a large-scale investigation to this point ... ," Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said, according to the NY Post.
In July, The Tennessean, the largest print newspaper in the state, had published a paid advertisement that predicted a huge attack in Nashville. The ad, placed by a fringe religious group called 'Future for America' had claimed that President Donald Trump would be the "the final president of the USA."
The ad, which was immediately withdrawn by the newspaper, said the 'attack' would happen in the following month. The ad had featured the photos of President Trump and Pope Francis.
The newspaper said the ad was utterly indefensible. "Two ads ran this week in the Tennessean that clearly violate our advertising standards," Kevin Gentzel, president of marketing solutions and chief revenue officer for Gannett, had said then. "We strongly condemn the message and apologize to our readers," he added.
The Arkansas-based group that placed the advertisement had earlier warned of the end-of-the-world Bible prophecies. According to the group, the doomsday predictions in the Bible were "taking place before our eyes." One of its advertisements on the Tennessean said the outfit wanted to warn the people of the cataclysmic event "so that they may be able to make a decision intelligently."
What is Future For America?
This is how the organization states its mission on its website: "The ministry of Future for America is to proclaim the final warning message of Revelation 14 as identified by the prophecies of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. The end-time fulfillment of Bible prophecy is no longer future-for it is taking place before our eyes. The historic, prophetic understanding of Seventh-day Adventism is now present truth."