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Bolton: Americans Should Be on Guard After Terrorism in Russia.


Terrorists could target sporting events in the United States before the Sochi Olympics in Russia in February, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton warned Tuesday.

“I suspect that law enforcement and intelligence in this country are focused on the risk that Chechen terrorists might try to one-up the Boston Marathon bombing in this country, as a prelude to the Sochi Olympics,” Bolton said on Fox News’America’s Newsroom.”

Story continues below video.

Terrorists struck twice in Russia over the weekend, hitting targets in the southern city of Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad.

More than 30 people died in separate attacks at a train station and on a trolley bus. Officials suspect Islamic militants from Chechnya were responsible.

Bolton said Americans should bring “situational awareness” of the potential for terrorist attacks to any sporting events that draw large numbers of people, either in the United States or abroad.

He said the Winter Olympics next month are especially vulnerable because events are spread out over a wide area.

“There still will be tens of thousands of spectators all over the area. If you secure one area, if you make the skiing venue safer, it simply means that other targets may end up being softer, more attractive to the terrorists — bus depots, hotels, that kind of thing,” he said.

Bolton explained that the animosity between the factions fighting in Russia “goes back centuries.” Russian extremists would view the Olympics as a “real opportunity to get their message out worldwide,” he said.

“When the entire world’s attention is focused on Sochi, it’s a perfect opportunity for Chechens and other terrorists to use it to attack.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Wanda Carruthers

Putin Vows to Annihilate ‘Terrorists’ After Suicide Bombings.


Image: Putin Vows to Annihilate 'Terrorists' After Suicide Bombings

VOLGOGRAD, RussiaPresident Vladimir Putin on Tuesday vowed to annihilate all “terrorists” following two deadly bomb attacks in the southern Russian city of Volgograd that raised security fears ahead of the Winter Olympics.The uncompromising remarks in a televised New Year address were Putin’s first public comments since suicide bombers killed at least 34 people in attacks less than 24 hours apart on a railway station and a trolleybus on Sunday and Monday.

But after two decades of violence in the North Caucasus, Islamist militants continue to pose a threat beyond their home region. Russia’s Olympic Committee chief said no more could be done to safeguard the Games since every measure possible was already in place around Sochi, beneath the Caucasus mountains.

The bombings just ahead of Russia’s biggest annual holiday followed another suicide bus blast in Volgograd in October and came little more than a month before the start of Games on whose success Putin has staked his personal reputation.

“We will confidently, fiercely and consistently continue the fight against terrorists until their complete annihilation,” he said in remarks from the far eastern city of Khabarovsk, where he met victims of severe floods.

Acknowledging “problems and serious tests” in 2013, including the Volgograd bombings, he vowed to ensure the security in the year ahead, when Russia stages the Winter Olympics from Feb. 7-23.

Putin, who came to power when Boris Yeltsin announced his resignation on New Year’s Eve 14 years ago, won popularity early in his presidency by crushing efforts to forge an independent state in Chechnya but he has been unable to stop Chechen and other Islamist militants across the North Caucasus.

Police detained dozens of people in sweeps through Volgograd on Tuesday but there was no indication any were linked to the attacks, for which no one claimed responsibility.

Mourners laid flowers at the site of the bombing that tore the bus apart and left residents fearing further violence.

“I’m frightened,” said Tatyana Volchanskaya, a student in Volgograd, 400 miles northwest of Sochi. She said some friends were afraid to go to shops and other crowded places.

SOCHI SAID SECURE

Putin ordered tighter security nationwide after the blasts, but Russian Olympic chief Alexander Zhukov said no additional measures would be taken at Sochi: “As for the Olympic Games, all necessary security measures have been foreseen,” Interfax news agency quoted him as saying on Monday.

“Additional measures will not be taken in Sochi as a result of the terrorist act. Everything necessary has been done as it is.”

Putin has staked his prestige on the Games in Sochi, which lies at the Western edge of the Caucasus mountains and within the strip of land the insurgents want to carve out of Russia and turn into an Islamic state.

Insurgent leader Doku Umarov has urged militants to use “maximum force” to prevent the Games from going ahead.

Russia drove separatists from power in Chechnya in a war that boosted the popularity of Putin, a former KGB officer.

But the insurgency that spread across the North Caucasus region in the aftermath of that conflict has persisted despite Putin’s repeated, strongly worded pledges to eliminate the militants whose attacks have cast a shadow over his rule.

As prime minister in 1999, he vowed to wipe the militants out and in 2010, after female suicide bombers killed 40 people on the Moscow metro, he ordered police to find those who had directed the attacks and “scrape them from the bottom of the sewers.”

Less than a year later, in January 2011, a bomber from the North Caucasus killed 37 people at a busy Moscow airport.

The rail station bombing in Volgograd was the deadliest attack outside the North Caucasus since then, killing 18 people. Citing unnamed sources, Interfax said the suspected attacker was an ethnic Russian convert to Islam who moved to Dagestan where he joined militants early in 2012.

Investigators said they believed a male suicide bomber was also responsible for Monday’s morning rush-hour blast.

PUTIN’S LEGACY

Volgograd — formerly Stalingrad — is a city of a million and a transport hub for an area of southern Russia that includes the North Caucasus.

A car bomb killed a prosecutor’s assistant in Dagestan on Tuesday and two people were killed in a bomb blast there late on Monday, authorities said.

In Volgograd, more than 5,000 police and interior troops were mobilized in “Operation Anti-terror Whirlwind”, Interior Ministry spokesman Andrei Pilipchuk said. He said 87 people had been detained after they resisted police or could not produce proper ID or registration documents, and that some had weapons.

State television showed helmeted officers pushing men up against a wall. But there was no sign any were linked to the bombings or suspected of planning further attacks.

Itar-Tass news agency said police were focusing on migrant workers from the Caucasus and ex-Soviet states — groups that rights activists say face discrimination from police.

The success or failure of the Olympics will form a big part of the legacy of Putin, 60. He secured the Games for Sochi in 2007, during his first stint as president, and has not ruled out seeking a new six-year term in 2018.

Intended to showcase how Russia has changed since the collapse of Soviet communism in 1991, the Games have also been a focus for complaints in the West and among Russian liberals that Putin has stifled dissent and encouraged intolerance.

This month, Putin freed jailed opponents including oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the Pussy Riot punk band in what critics said was an effort to disarm Western criticism and improve his image.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

John Bolton: Groups Will Keep Trying to Terrorize Olympics.


The terrorists who bombed a Russian city twice in the past two days, less than two months before the Winter Olympics, will likely attempt more attacks, says John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

We should be concerned. I have no doubt . . . that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will pull out all the stops for security,” Bolton told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“But by the same token, the terrorists will respond in kind. These bombings . . . are obviously intended to show they can hit vulnerable civilian targets,” Bolton said Monday.

Story continues below video.

Earlier Monday, a suicide bomb killed at least 14 people in the city of Volgograd, just a day after an explosion at Volgograd’s main train station killed 17 people and wounded at least 35. Authorities declared both bombings terrorist attacks.

Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said he fears the terrorists “are going to do everything they can to infiltrate and make their terrorist case again.”

“I’m not myself aware of the prior Olympic games where we’ve had this level of threat of terrorism . . . If I were on the American team, I would be taking extra precaution.”

Bolton said he was disturbed by a New York Times investigative report into the attack in Benghazi, Libya, last year that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, calling it “an editorial disguised as a news story.”

The report by David Kirkpatrick intimated the attack was the work of local militia groups and not al-Qaida.

“They should be embarrassed about this, but I’m sure they’re not. It really is a tribute to their ideology that they can put this out there and hope that it will go unchallenged,” Bolton said.

“It’s just filled, not only with the inaccuracies and contradictions, [but] it contradicts previous New York Times reporting about the involvement of al-Qaida.

“So, I am just amazed that anybody would give this thing credibility. It’s filled with irrelevant facts to make it look like a news story, but its basic conclusion isn’t supported by the reporting that’s actually done.”

See the “Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Bill Hoffmann

In Wake of Bombings, US Offers Security Help For Sochi Olympics.


Image: In Wake of Bombings, US Offers Security Help For Sochi OlympicsAn aerial view of Olympic Park in the Adler district of the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

The U.S. government is concerned Islamist militants may be preparing attacks aimed at disrupting the Winter Olympic games in Sochi in February and is offering closer cooperation on security with Russia despite strains earlier this year.Two bombings in the Russian city of Volgograd in the past two days – one at the city’s central railway station and another on a bus – killed dozens of people and raised anxieties about the safety of the Olympics.

One militant group issued explicit direct threats to disrupt the Olympics, a State Department official said. Other officials said that regions near Sochi were among the areas of Russia currently most prone to Islamic militancy and other unrest.

“There are clearly sensitivities in our relationship with Moscow but enhancing Olympic security and counterterrorism efforts more broadly are areas of clear mutual interest,” one U.S. official said.

“The Volgograd bombings underscore the threat and the need to work hand in hand with Russia in order to ensure the protection of U.S. citizens participating in and attending the games in Sochi,” the official said.

U.S. security officials said the government was not surprised by the Volgograd bombings and had anticipated that such attacks might well occur in the run-up to the games.

The officials said U.S. and Russian authorities have engaged in extensive contacts regarding security preparations for the Olympics. The United States is expected to share with Russia information it might collect about possible threats to the games.

“We’re taking lots of security precautions” related to the Winter Games, a U.S. State Department official said on Monday.

The U.S. Olympic Committee says it’s cooperating with the State Department and law enforcement agencies to help ensure the protection of its athletes.

“We are always concerned with the safety of our delegation, and the Sochi Games are no different in that regard,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky told Newsmax on Monday.

“We will continue to work closely with the local organizing committee, our State Department and law enforcement agencies to ensure that all appropriate measures are in place.

“We offer our sincere condolences to those affected by the bombings in Russia,” Sandusky said.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden condemned the Volgograd attacks, which were blamed on suicide bombers.

She said the U.S. government had “offered our full support to the Russian government in security preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games, and we would welcome the opportunity for closer cooperation for the safety of the athletes, spectators, and other participants.”

The State Department is expected to caution U.S. travelers on Monday about possible bombings and hostage takings in Russia, particularly in the North Caucasus region, which is less than 100 miles from Sochi.

The U.S. offer for closer cooperation with Russia follows two issues earlier this year that raised tensions between U.S. and Russian security agencies: the involvement of two Chechen brothers in the Boston Marathon bombing and Russia’s granting temporary asylum to former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Nonetheless, in November, Matthew Olsen, director of the government’s U.S. National Counter-terrorism Center, said his agency was “coordinating and integrating the intelligence community’s support … to the Winter Olympics in Sochi.”

Newsmax reporter Cynthia Fagen contributed to this report.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Rep. King: Russia Bombings Show ‘How Dangerous Islamic Terrorists Are’.


The deadly bombings in Russia over the past two days should be a wakeup call to “how evil Islamic terrorists can be” and is deeply troubling for the upcoming Winter Olympics, U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York says.

“This shows again how dangerous Islamic terrorists are … It was a brutal attack and it show just how devastating they can be,” King told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“With all the security that Russia has … if they could attack there you can imagine what they can do here. This is really should be a wakeup call to all of us about how deadly, how diabolical, and how evil Islamic terrorists can be and are.”

King, chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism, said Olympic officials must be vigilant in providing security.

“I don’t want to be scaring people, but anytime you have active terrorists, you have to be concerned,” he said.

“Even with all that security [the Russians are] capable of … it’s very difficult to stop these attacks unless you are constantly, constantly monitoring.”

On Monday, a suicide bomb killed at least 14 people in the southern Russian city of Volgograd, just a day after an explosion at Volgograd’s main train station killed 17 people and wounded at least 35.

Russian authorities have declared both bombings to be terrorist attacks.

King says the attacks should be a reminder to those who believe that “al-Qaida is dead or al-Qaida and its affiliates don’t have the power they once had.

“They are very lethal and in many ways more dangerous than they were before Sept. 11th.”

King criticized the New York Times report that contends local militias and not al-Qaeda were responsible for the attack that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, in Benghazi.

“This story is totally misleading untrue. First of all, the headline saying al-Qaida as not involved — Ansar al-Sharia, [one of the local groups] is affiliate with al-Qaida,” he said.

Al-Qaida realizes how strong we have become. We had weakened them. So they’ve metastasized, they’ve morphed, and the real threat comes from these affiliated groups …”

“To say that that is not al-Qaida … then all of our people are in trouble because they’re the groups we should be looking at.”

He believes the story was concocted to help Democrats in the 2016 presidential race, particularly Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State who has been under fire for her handling of Benghazi.

“[They want to] issue away from Republicans no matter who the Democratic nominee is. Whether or not it’s Hillary Clinton or not, they want this issue taken away and it’s part of a systematic effort here,” he said.

“This story is meaningless and baseless and by putting that headline on it – I’m disappointed in how much the media went along with it, by the way.”

See the “Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Bill Hoffmann

Bill Rodgers: Terrorists Won’t Stop Olympic Games.


The Winter Olympics will not be stopped by the cowardly terrorists who staged two deadly bombings in Russia this week, former Olympic runner and four-time New York City and Boston Marathon winner Bill Rodgers says.

“I’m confident the American athletes and athletes from around the world are going to go to Sochi, it’s going to be a great Olympic games,” Rodgers told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

Story continues below video.

 

“You’re not going to stop the Olympic Games — not anywhere. I don’t believe so.”

On Monday, a suicide bomb killed at least 14 people in the southern Russian city of Volgograd, just a day after an explosion at Volgograd’s main train station killed 17 people and wounded at least 35.

Russian authorities have declared both bombings to be terrorist attacks.

”[It’s] another attempt to get attention for a cause . . . We’re taking a look at a small, isolated group of religious extremists,” Rodgers said.

“You can’t defeat the world, you know? In this sense, it kind of gives the rest of the world an understanding of what we have to do, which is to unite and don’t let people stand in your way and stop you.”

Rodgers, 66, who competed in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, believes Russia has expert security forces to prevent terrorism at the Olympics, which will take place in February.

“The Russians stopped the Nazi invasion in World War II and the Russian people are very tough. I raced against the top Russians back in the ’70s and ’80s,” he said.

“The political leaders will take a look at this and they’ll come to a solution in the end.”

Rodgers, author of “Marathon Man: My 26.2-Mile Journey from Unknown Grad Student to the Top of the Running World,” said athletes live by a saying: have no fear.

“It’s the way we live and . . . athletes always do their best and try to rise above.”

Rodgers says he vehemently disagrees with Brian Stelter of “CNN Newsroom,” who suggested on Friday that news outlets may have had an “overreaction” to the Boston Marathon bombings last April that killed three and injured 264.

“I disagree completely. It is political terrorism. It’s a worldwide issue because there is this small group of extremists and they travel here and there and they’re around the world, to an extent,” he said.

“But, overall, the majority of all people are against these extremists so that’s why they cannot win.”

See “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Bill Hoffmann

Ex-CIA Officer: Putin Must Tread Carefully after Terrorist Attacks.


Russian President Vladimir Putin must tread carefully in responding to domestic terrorist attacks with the 2014 Sochi Olympics on the horizon, former CIA officer Peter Brookes told Fox News’ “Happening Now.”

“(Putin’s) not saying much right now. I think there is reason for that. He wants to be very cautious. He doesn’t want to turn visitors or heads of state . . . or even athletes, from coming to Sochi in the coming days,” Brookes, also a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said Monday.

“This is a major event for Russia. It’s not only a domestic audience for Putin. He wants to look as the leader of the country. But, it’s also an international event,” he said.

Story continues below video.

Two separate bombings in a 24-hour period rocked Volgograd, in southern Russia. The first killed 17 people in a railway station Sunday, and the second blast targeted a trolley bus a day later, killing 14. Similarities in the bombings indicated they could be related, but no group claimed responsibility.

Brookes suggested Chechnyan Islamic militants from the Caucasus region were behind the attacks. He said they had sought an independent Islamist state and had recently “decided to target civilians, as well as the Olympics.”

The Olympics are set to begin Feb. 7 in Sochi in southern Russia. Brookes said the back-to-back attacks had already succeeded in seeming to cast a pall over the Olympics. He said he thought the Chechnyans had the advantage “because of the possibilities for a public relations victory for them.”

“Russia looks insecure. Putin looks bad. And, it’s going to be very difficult for them to react in a way that will not make the situation worse, while at the same time providing security for the people of Russia and all those people coming to Sochi,” he said.

Brookes called terrorism a “psychological game.” During the Olympics, he suggested terrorists do not have to target the Olympic site at Sochi “to make an international splash.”

“While the Olympics are going on, they could attack Volgograd again. They could attack Moscow. They could attack St. Petersburg,” Brookes said.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Wanda Carruthers

Terror Stalks Olympics Following Double Russian Bombing.


Image: Terror Stalks Olympics Following Double Russian BombingA police officer with a sniffer dog and security guards check a bus entering the Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia.

By Lisa Barron

The Winter Olympics, set to open in Russia in less than six weeks, have been thrown into chaos after two terrorist bombs killed 31 people in a city that thousands of spectators will travel through on their way to the games in Sochi.

Already the Australian team is considering pulling out of the games following the explosions in Volgograd, the regional transportation hub.

And U.S. authorities are cooperating with Russian authorities as a crackdown on Islamic separatists from the troubled North Caucasus region is seen as inevitable.

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The bombings have been linked to separatists from the Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan — the area that spawned Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The head of the Russian Olympic Committee, Alexander Zhukov, said Monday that no extra security measures would be adopted despite the attacks, the first time a top-ranking Russian official has spoken out about concerns that the games could be targeted, reports the state-owned RAI Novosti.

“Concerning the Olympic Games in Sochi, all necessary security measures are provided for, and extra security measures in light of the act of terrorism in Volgograd will not be taken, because everything needed is done,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin for his part has ordered tighter security nationwide but has not addressed the attacks publicly.

The second attack in Volgograd — formerly known as Stalingrad — killed at least 14 and injured 28, when an explosion ripped apart a trolley bus, one day after an explosion killed at least 17 people in the city’s main rail station.

Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee, said the bomb used was packed with shrapnel that was “identical” to that in the rail station bombing and was set off by a suicide bomber, reports Russia Today.

Sergey Avdienko, a retired police colonel and former Interpol officer, told the network  that the attacks were carried out by Islamic militants from the volatile North Caucasus.

“It’s quite clear who is behind these attacks — it’s people from a place fairly close to Volgograd; I’m speaking about the Caucasus, where radical Islamic groups thrive. The entire point of doing this, especially on the cusp of the New Year, is to intimidate the population and to destabilize the situation in the country as well, particularly in view of the coming Olympic Games,” he said.

Volgograd, about 400 miles northeast of Sochi, is a key transport hub for the region.
In July, Doku Umarov, head of the Caucasus Emirate, considered to be a terrorist organization by the State Department, vowed to target Sochi explicitly, calling the games ”satanic,” reports CNN.

”They plan to hold the Olympics on the bones of our ancestors, on the bones of many, many dead Muslims, buried on the territory of our land on the Black Sea, and we Mujahedeen are obliged not to permit that — using any methods allowed us by the almighty Allah,” he said in a video statement.

Umarov was a rebel leader in Chechnya’s separatist fight in the early 1990s, which evolved into an Islamic insurgency that has spread through neighboring Muslim republics, including Dagestan.

The Russia Foreign Ministry on Monday likened the Volgograd bombings to “terrorist attacks” in the US, Syria or elsewhere, organized by groups with the “same motivator,” and expressed “deep appreciation” to all world leaders who condemned the attacks, according to RT.

The State Department issued a statement on Sunday  saying, “The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s terrorist attack in Volgograd. We send our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and stand in solidarity with the Russian people against terrorism of any kind.”

The White House also issued a statement saying President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation and that the U.S. and Russia were cooperating on anti-terrorism leading up to the Olympics.

Putin’s silence as his pet Olympics project appeared in danger of being thrown into chaos was seen as surprising. “Putin may be hesitating to speak out because any alarmist statements from him might indeed cast doubt on the security of the Olympics at Sochi, which is much closer than Volgograd to the terrorist hotbeds of the North Caucasus,” Leonid Bershidsky, an editor and novelist, wrote in Bloomberg View.

“Security is already extra tight at the Olympic venue, and law enforcement chiefs know Putin won’t forgive them for allowing anyone to mess with an Olympic showcase that has cost $48 billion to stage,” he added.

But the bombings are having international repercussions. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the country could pull out of the games.

“We don’t want to lightly prevent our athletes participating in any event for which they have trained for years, but their safety and the safety of their families and other spectators is of the utmost concern,” Bishop told The Australian newspaper.

The 22nd Winter Olympics are due to begin in Sochi on Feb. 6 and run for 17 days. The city was chosen as host in 2007, despite fears of violence from groups linked with the independence moves in the nearby republics.

In 2010 Time Magazine raised fears that Sochi, a resort town on the Black Sea near the Russian border with Georgia would be safe, citing at least four groups that could set of a bomb in a crowded square in broad daylight.

“We are preparing to hold the Games in what is virtually the front line in our war on terrorism,” said former KGB Col. Oleg Nechiporenko, chief analyst for Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist and Anti-Criminal Fund.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

At Least 14 Killed in Russia Bus Explosion; 2nd Attack in Two Days.


MOSCOW — A bomb ripped apart a bus in Volgograd on Monday, killing 14 people in the second deadly attack blamed on suicide bombers in the southern Russian city in 24 hours and raising fears of Islamist attacks on the Winter Olympics.

President Vladimir Putin, who has staked his prestige on February’s Sochi Games and dismissed threats from Chechen and other Islamist militants in the nearby North Caucasus, ordered tighter security nationwide after the morning rush-hour blast.

Investigators said they believed a male suicide bomber set off the blast, a day after a similar attack killed at least 17 in the main rail station of a city that serves as a gateway to the southern wedge of Russian territory bounded by the Black and Caspian Seas and the Caucasus mountains.

A Reuters journalist saw the blue and white trolleybus — a bus powered by overhead electric cables — reduced to a twisted, gutted carcass, its roof blown off and bodies and debris strewn across the street. Windows in nearby apartments were blown out by the explosion, which investigators called a “terrorist act.”

“For the second day, we are dying. It’s a nightmare,” a woman near the scene said, her voice trembling as she choked back tears. “What are we supposed to do, just walk now?”

The bomb used was packed with “identical” shrapnel to that in the rail station, indicating they may have been made in the same place and supporting suspicions the bombings were linked, said Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the investigators.

Health Ministry spokesman Oleg Salagai said 14 people were killed and 28 wounded in the bombing on Monday.

“There was smoke and people were lying in the street,” said Olga, who works nearby. “The driver was thrown a long way. She was alive and moaning. . . . Her hands and clothes were bloody,” he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

On Sunday, investigators initially described the station bomber as a woman from Dagestan, a hub of Islamist militancy on the Caspian, but they later said the attacker may have been a man. In October, a woman from the North Caucasus blew up and killed seven people on a bus in Volgograd.

The city has held a place in Russians’ sense of national identity since, when known as Stalingrad, its Soviet defenders held off German invaders to turn the course of World War Two.

Chechens and other North Caucasus militants have also staged attacks in Moscow and other cities in the past.

SECURITY

Putin, who has not spoken publicly since the attacks, ordered a federal committee that coordinates counterterrorism efforts to step up security nationwide including in Volgograd, and to report to him daily, the Kremlin said.

The violence raises fears of a concerted campaign before the Olympics, which start on Feb. 7 around Sochi, a resort on the Black Sea, 700 kilometers (450 miles) southwest of Volgograd.

In an online video posted in July, the Chechen leader of insurgents who want to carve an Islamic state out of the swathe of mainly Muslim provinces south of Volgograd, urged militants to use “maximum force” to prevent the Games from going ahead.

“Terrorists in Volgograd aim to terrorize others around the world, making them stay away from the Sochi Olympics,” said Dmitry Trenin, an analyst with the Moscow Carnegie Center.

The International Olympic Committee expressed condolences to those affected by the attacks and said “we have no doubt that the Russian authorities will be up to the task” of providing security at the Games.

“Unfortunately, terrorism is a global phenomenon and no region is exempt, which is why security at the Games is a top priority for the IOC,” a spokeswoman for the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In power since 2000, Putin secured the Games for Russia and has staked his reputation on a safe and successful Olympics, even freeing jailed opponents including oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the Pussy Riot punk band to remove a cause for international criticism at the event.

Putin was first elected after winning popularity for a war against Chechen rebels, but attacks by Islamist militants whose insurgency is rooted in that war have clouded his 14 years in power and now confront him with his biggest security challenge.

Police said additional officers were being deployed to railway stations and airports nationwide after the bombing at the Volgograd rail station on Sunday, but the attacks raised questions about the effectiveness of security measures.

The police force in Volgograd, a city of a million people on the west bank of the river Volga, has been depleted as some 600 officers were redeployed to Sochi to tighten security around Olympic sites, a police officer told Reuters.

More attacks can be expected before the Olympics and cities in southern Russia where the Games are not being held are easier targets than Sochi, said Alexei Filatov, a prominent former member of Russia’s elite anti-terrorism force, Alfa.

“The threat is greatest now because it is when terrorists can make the biggest impression,” he said. “The security measures were beefed up long ago around Sochi, so terrorists will strike instead in these nearby cities like Volgograd.”

TENSIONS

The attacks also threatened to fuel ethnic tension, which has increased with an influx of migrant laborers from the impoverished Caucasus and Muslim Central Asian nations to cities around Russia, including Volgograd, in recent years.

“They need to be chased out of here. It has become a transit junction — there are all these non-Russians, both good and bad,” said Olga, a saleswoman at a store near the mangled bus. “We’ve plenty bandits of our own. Why do we need others?”

Police were checking documents of people in Volgograd, with a focus on migrants, said Russian news agency Itar-Tass.

Volgograd will be one of the venues for the 2018 soccer World Cup, another high-profile sports event Putin has helped Russia win the right to stage, and which will bring thousands of foreign fans to cities around Russia.

The first Olympics in Russia since the 1980 summer Games in Moscow, Sochi is a chance for Putin to show how the country has changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

He has faced criticism in the West and from Russian activists who say he has smothered dissent and encouraged discrimination against homosexuals since starting a third term as president in 2012.

Sunday’s attack was the deadliest to strike the ethnic Russian heartlands since January 2011, when a male suicide bomber from the North Caucasus killed 37 people in the arrivals hall of a busy Moscow airport.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Female Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 15 at Russian Train Station.


MOSCOW — A female suicide bomber blew herself up in the entrance hall of a Russian train station on Sunday, killing at least 15 others in the second deadly attack in the space of three days as the country prepares to host the Winter Olympics.

President Vladimir Putin immediately ordered law enforcement agencies Russian to take all necessary measures to ensure security after the attack.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack, but it came several months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov called for new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including the Sochi Games.
A federal police spokesman, Vladimir Kolesnikov, said security would be stepped up at train stations and airports following the blast, the second deadly bombing in Volgograd in just over two months.

The state Investigative Committee said the bomber detonated her explosives in front of a metal detector just inside the main entrance of Volgograd station. Footage shown on TV showed a massive orange fireball filling the hall and smoke billowing out through shattered windows.

Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the nation’s top investigative agency, said that 13 people and the bomber were killed on the spot and two victims died later at a hospital. Russia’s Health Ministry said about 50 people were injured, and Markin said 34 were hospitalized, many in grave condition.

A police officer was among the dead in the explosion and three others were wounded.

“We heard a loud bang from behind, saw a bright flash and fell on the floor,” local resident Svetlana Demchenko, who witnessed the explosion, was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.

The bomber “became nervous” when she saw a police officer standing by the metal detector and detonated the device, according to the investigative committee.

“The number of victims could have been much higher if not for the system of barriers that prevented the suicide bomber from getting through the metal detector and into the waiting area, where a large number of passengers had gathered for reasons including delays of three trains,” the committee said.

Numerous ambulances were parked outside the station, and several motionless bodies were placed on the pavement.

Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, is a city of around 1 million people, about 430 miles northeast of Sochi, where the Winter Olympics — a major prestige project for President Vladimir Putin — will open on Feb. 7.

It lies close to Russia’s North Caucasus, a strip of mostly Muslim provinces plagued by near-daily violence in a long-running Islamist insurgency. Umarov urged militants in a video posted online in July to use “maximum force” to prevent Putin staging the Olympics.

An attack by a female suicide bomber killed seven people in Volgograd on Oct. 21. On Friday, a car bomb killed three people in the southern Russian city of Pyatigorsk, 170 miles east of Sochi.

The station was busier than usual, with people traveling home for the New Year holidays.

“I heard the blast and ran toward it,” a witness, Vladimir, told Rossiya-24. “I saw melted, twisted bits of metal, broken glass and bodies lying on the street.”

Sunday’s attack was the deadliest to strike Russia’s heartland since January 2011, when Islamist insurgents killed 37 people at a Moscow airport.

Umarov, who had claimed responsibility for the 2010 and 2011 bombings, ordered a halt to attacks on civilian targets during the mass street protests against President Vladimir Putin in the winter of 2011-12. He reversed that order in July, urging his men to “do their utmost to derail” the Sochi Olympics which he described as “satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors.”

It wasn’t immediately clear where Sunday’s bomber came from, but officials in Dagestan were checking whether the attacker could come from the region, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Chechnya has become more stable under the steely grip of its Moscow-backed strongman, who incorporated many of the former rebels into his feared security force. But Dagestan, the province between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, has evolved as the epicenter of the rebellion, with near daily attacks on police and other officials.

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By Newsmax Wires

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