Russian Blast: Second Terrorist Attack Threatens Sochi Olympics

Image: Russian Blast: Second Terrorist Attack Threatens Sochi Olympics Military vehicles surround wreckage of a trolleybus, in Volgograd, Russia, Monday, Dec. 30, 2013.

Monday, 30 Dec 2013 07:47 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Two terrorist blasts in two days in the Russian city of Volgograd have raised security concerns, just six weeks before the Sochi Olympics.

The latest blast, during rush hour Monday morning, killed 14 people, CNN reported. The explosion appeared to have happened in the back of a trolley bus and was set off by a male suicide bomber.

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USA Today reported Sunday that 16 people were killed in the first blast at a Volgograd train station. It fit a pattern of previous terror attacks in the country.

Volgograd, known as Stalingrad during the Soviet Union era, is one of the country's main railway hubs. It is 620 miles away from Sochi, where the Winter Olympics is scheduled to take place Feb. 7 through Feb. 24.

Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov called for terrorist attacks at the Sochi Olympics and other civilian targets earlier. Umarov said that he wanted Chechen separatist groups to work together to prevent the Olympics from happening.

"An open question is how much authority (Umarov) really has over these different groups," Jeffrey Mankoff, deputy director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Russia and Eurasia Program told USA Today. "A lot of the attacks seem to be inspired by Umarov but may not be directly controlled by him."

Vladmir Markin, a spokesman for the country's federal investigation agency, told the state-run news agency RIA Novosti that while no one claimed responsibility for the attacks, the agency is treating both as terrorist acts.

The attacks and activism among the separatist groups, who view hosting the Olympics as a provocation, have put safety to the forefront.

"If you are a terrorist group in the Caucasus, the Sochi Olympics are going to be a very inviting target," Steven Pifer, director of the Brookings Institution's Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative, told USA Today. "I think you're going to see at the Sochi Olympics a very heavy security presence."

Markin said that security controls prevented greater losses at the train station, which was crowded with people.

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