Misconstrued Publicity Stunt Shuts Down Boston

Commuters were re-routed and terrorism fears briefly rose in Boston, when a publicity stunt for a cable TV show didn't go as planned.

At least nine suspicious packages were found in and around the city, forcing authorities to close major roads and part of the Charles River while they investigated. The devices had parts that resembled circuit boards, with blinking lights attached. They had been planted near high-traffic areas.

Some packages were blown up by police — but they turned out to be part of a harmless marketing campaign for the Cartoon Network, owned by Turner Broadcasting.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino warned of the seriousness of planting hoaxes.

"The individuals who may have placed these bombs, or these packages, I should say, should be warned that this is a, that there's a heavy penalty," Menino said. "It's imprisonment: 2 to 5 years for each one of them. So it's not, We're not playing around. We're throwing everything at it."

Turner Broadcasting released a statement expressing regret for the incident. It said that as part of a marketing campaign, the devices have been put into place for two to three weeks in 10 cities: Boston, New York, Los

Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Austin, Texas.

Melissa Block talks with NPR's Tovia Smith in Boston.

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