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Obama, Putin discuss Boston Marathon attacks

WASHINGTON — President Obama has spoken by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the investigation into the Boston Marathon attacks.

The two brothers police believe were responsible for Monday’s deadly explosions are ethnic Chechens. Russia has faced sporadic violence in the predominantly Muslim region of Chechnya since the Kremlin put down separatist uprisings in two wars in the 1990s.

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In a statement, the White House said Putin expressed his condolences on behalf of the Russian people. The White House said Obama ‘‘praised the close cooperation that the United States has received from Russia on counterterrorism, including in the wake of the Boston attack.”

The White House statement said the leaders agreed to continue cooperation on counterterrorism and security issues.

The families of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the 26-year-old killed in a gun battle with police in Massachusetts overnight Thursday, and his 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar, captured Friday night in Watertown, left Chechnya long ago and moved to Central Asia, according to the Chechen government.

Before arriving in the United States a decade ago, the brothers lived briefly in Makhachkala, capital of Dagestan, a neighboring, violence-wracked Russian province where their father lives, but they emigrated from Kyrgzystan, a former Soviet republic.

Authorities have not linked the brothers to any insurgent groups, and the Kremlin-backed strongman who now leads Chechnya said the brothers got their inspiration in the United States. ‘‘They weren’t living here. They were living, studying, and growing up in America,’’ Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said.

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