Russia began a counter-terrorism operation in a southern province that borders the Krasnodar region, where the Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi in less than a month, after six bodies were found in abandoned cars.
The security swoop started today at midnight in two districts of the Stavropol region and will include “special measures and temporary restrictions,” the local government said in a website statement. Six bodies riddled with bullets were found yesterday in parked cars, the state-run RIA Novosti news service reported.
An explosive device planted near one of the vehicles blew up without causing any injuries as police examined the scene, the regional branch of the Interior Ministry said on its website. A criminal case was opened into the incidents, with the Federal Security Service joining the probe, the Investigative Committee said.
The killings are heightening concerns about security in the region days after more than 30 people died in two bomb attacks in Volgograd in southern Russia and a blast in the Stavropol regional city of Pyatigorsk killed three on Dec. 27. The authorities sealed off Sochi by deploying 30,000 soldiers and police officers around the Black Sea resort, where the Olympics are set to open on Feb. 7.
President Vladimir Putin called for increased security across the country in the aftermath of the Volgograd bombings, calling the attacks “inhuman” in his New Year’s Eve address. Russia is spending at least $48 billion to stage the games, more than any other previous organizer.
The regions of Krasnodar and Stavropol border North Caucasus republics, where Russian forces face almost daily attacks by Muslim extremists after two separatist wars since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
An alleged female suicide bomber was detained on a passenger bus today in the Stavropol region, NTV television reported, without saying where it got the information.
More than 400 Cossacks in traditional uniform arrived in Sochi today to patrol the city during the Olympics, Ria Novosti reported, citing an unidentified representative of the group. Cossacks were a military class that served the tsars on the empire’s borders before the Russian Revolution and have enjoyed a revival since the Soviet Union’s collapse.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited the Kursky train station in Moscow today and inspected the security measures implemented there, according to the government’s website. Further counter-terrorism precautions should be put in place at major transport hubs, he said.
All liquids will be banned in carry-on luggage at Russian airports as passenger jets remain vulnerable to the threat of terror attacks, Rosaviatsiya, the state airline watchdog, said on its website yesterday.