The Winter Olympic games are fast approaching — set to begin in Sochi, Russia, on February 7, 2014. Unfortunately, terrorist activity continues to be problematic for security forces preparing for the upcoming events. Near the end of December there were multiple suicide bombings, with one in Volgograd, 400 miles southwest of Sochi, killing fourteen individuals.
Now Russian security is continuing the hunt for the terrorist group behind attacks aimed at disrupting the Winter Olympics, searching for three suspected female suicide bombers known as the “black widows,” as well as a number of other suspects. These women, named for the deaths of their husbands, are considered threats to the torch relay with concerns that the end of the relay will be hit with a bombing attack. Posters of them are being distributed by Russian law enforcement officials.
While in pursuit of the so-called black widow suspects, Russsian security killed a militant leader of the “Babayurtovskiy” gang, Eldar Magatov, managing first to organize the release of women and children in the residence before the shootout occurred, according to NBC News. A second violent shooting exchange took place near a village administration building in Dagestan, after Russian troops defused a bomb put in place there.
“I would not want these acts of terrorism — crimes of the kind aimeed at undermining international cooperation — to affect the upcoming events,” said Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, at a press conference last Wednesday. “Security is to be ensured by some 40,000 law enforcement and special services officers,” said Putin. “I would also like to note that a special regime for movement of people and goods was introduced in the Great Sochi area starting from January 7, 2014. We have set up round the clock headquarters to ensure security.”
President Barack Obama spoke with Putin on Tuesday, according to a White House press release. The two discussed global issues including Syria’s upcoming peace conference, Iran, and the Sochi Olympic games. According to the readout of the call, the United States has offered its “full assistance” in ensuring the protection of the games and those in attendance.
Also in discussions on Tuesday were Army General Martin E. Dempsey — the Chair of the Join Chiefs of Staff — and General Valery V. Gerasimov of Russia. According to the U.S. Department of Defense American Forces Press Service, the two discussed the Sochi Games, and the the security the Russian military has in place. Dempsey said that Russian security would have defense in place for threats coming from both air and nearby water, chemical, and biological precautions, as well as medical aid prepared. “I reiterated the fact that we would favorably consider requests [for aid] from them,” said Dempsy.