Second Boston Marathon bombing suspect responding to questions

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(NBC NEWS) - Despite a serious throat wound preventing him from speaking, the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect is beginning to respond to questions from investigators, federal officials tell NBC News.

Nearly 48 hours after he was taken into custody following an intense gun battle and manhunt, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was communicating with a special team of federal investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.

He was responding to questions mostly in writing because of the throat wound, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The suspect remains in serious condition. The throat wound may be the result of a suicide attempt, investigators said.

Officials are hoping to glean more information about the twin blasts Monday at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, which killed three people and injured more than 170, and determine whether Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a firefight with police after a wild chase into the Boston suburb of Watertown on Thursday night, received assistance from others.

Word that the wounded suspect is able to communicate with authorities came as a surprise, especially after details about the severity of his injuries began to emerge earlier in the day.

Boston mayor Thomas Menino told an interviewer that “we don’t know if we’ll ever be able to question the individual."