Russian police are on the hunt for a potential female suicide bomber in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, where the Winter Olympics are set to begin next month.
People in Sochi say police have distributed photos of the female suspect, who is said to be the widow of an Islamic militant from the predominantly Muslim region of Dagestan. She has been identified as 22-year-old Ruzanna Ibragimova, nicknamed “Salima.”
The Associated Press reports police are also searching for two other women suspected of being possible suicide bombers.
Russian officials have blamed the so-called “black widows” of slain insurgents for previous suicide attacks in the country.
Men claiming to be from an Islamist militant group identifying itself as Vilayat Dagestan speak, in this still image taken from video posted on the Internet on Jan. 20, 2014.
On Sunday, an Islamic militant group from Dagestan posted a video online claiming responsibility for last month’s deadly suicide bombings in Volgograd, which killed 34 people. The two men in the video also threaten attacks at the Olympics. It is unclear when the video was made.
Thousands of athletes and spectators from all over the world are expected to travel to Sochi for the Olympic Games, which will feature competitors in a variety of winter sports, including skiing, skating and ice hockey.
The U.S. military pledged Monday to make air and naval support available to the Russian government as it makes security preparations for the Olympics. A Pentagon spokesman said in a statement that support -- including two U.S. Navy ships in the Black Sea -- will be available if requested "for all manner of contingencies.”
Andrew Kuchins, the director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told reporters Tuesday that Sochi is not the only city Russia needs to worry about when it comes to Islamist terrorists.
“You don’t necessarily have to hit Sochi to spoil the games. A series of Volgograd attacks would terrorize the whole of Russia and spoil the games and that will be a great tragedy," said Kuchins.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in comments broadcast Sunday that his country will do "whatever it takes" to ensure security at the Olympics. He spoke about massive security preparations in and around Sochi and said: "If we betray weakness, betray fear - display our fear - then we will be helping terrorists achieve their goals."