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US concerned about Olympics threat, offers Russia help

The US 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 US 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 US citizens participating in and attending the games in Sochi," the official said.

US 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 US 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 State Department official affirmed.

The State Department is expected to caution US travelers about possible bombings and hostage takings in Russia, particularly in the North Caucasus region, which is less than 100 miles (160 km) from Sochi.

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Tags:  Russia  Volgograd  suicide bombing  US  Olympics  





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