Less than 24 hours after the U.S. offered military support to the Russian government for the upcoming Olympic Games, reports indicate local authorities are looking for three potential female suicide bombers, one of whom may be in Sochi.
Security forces in Sochi distributed flyers Tuesday morning warning of a potential suicide attack by three women. One of the suspects, Ruzanna Ibragimova, 22, is believed to be at large in the host city on the Black Sea coast. The flyers include pictures of Ibragimova and two other women, Zaira Aliyeva, 26, and Dzhannet Tsakhayeva, 34, all wearing veils and believed to be trained "to perpetrate acts of terrorism."
The news follows twin bombings in late December in Volgograd, one at a train station followed the next day by another suicide bomber on a crowded commuter bus. The attacks, roughly 400 miles northeast of Sochi, accounted for 34 deaths. An Islamic militant group in Dagestan on Monday posted a video claiming responsibilities for the attacks and threatened further strikes in Sochi, reports The Associated Press.
Experts in these kinds of attacks say they are consistent with Islamic extremists in southern Russia. These groups often recruit so-called "black widows" – the wives of slain insurgents – to carry out such suicide bombings.
Security has been on high alert as a result, with the Russian government deploying 40,000 police officers to guard Sochi.
The Pentagon announced late Monday it would offer jets and Navy ships to the Russian government in preparation for the games, to begin on Feb. 7. Two ships already in the Black Sea "will be available if requested for all manner of contingencies in support of – and in consultation with – the Russian government," said spokesman Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby.
"The United States has offered its full support to the Russian government as it conducts security preparations for the Winter Olympics," he said. "To that end, U.S. commanders in the region are conducting prudent planning and preparations should that support be required."
Kirby said there is no such requirement at this time.