Note: This post is part of a multi-part series on the status of Russian security efforts for the Olympics. The purpose of this series is to keep SOFREP readers informed on the latest developments regarding the games as they draw closer.
Recent reporting from Russian journalism center Agentura.ru released preliminary reports of a massive ongoing “anti-terrorism” sweep of Russian security forces in the North Caucasus territory of Stavropol Wednesday. This sweep was in response to the discovery of five dead bodies and multiple improvised explosive devices in three rural areas of the region, as well as claims of an alleged female suicide bomber being detained by the FSB while traveling in Stavropol on a bus with a small child believed to be her son. While current reporting regarding the actual number of bodies discovered (at least five, possibly six victims) is conflicting, several facts remain consistent.
According to reporting compiled by the BBC, the five bodies were left inside four cars in the rural foothills of southern Stavropol. Two of the vehicles were booby-trapped with improvised explosive devices. One of these devices detonated three meters from police forces as they approached the vehicle to secure the scene after discovering the body, resulting in no casualties. Initial estimates suggest the detonated device was low-order and contained 0.5 kilograms of TNT but was packed with shrapnel for fragmentation. The second device was disarmed by robot arm and contained only 600 grams of TNT, also contained shrapnel and was of similar construction to the first device. All of the victims possessed gunshot wounds, and at least two of the victims were taxi drivers.
According to the BBC, “Stavropol is particularly vulnerable to attack from Islamist militants in the North Caucasus as it borders the mainly Muslim regions of Chechnya, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachayevo-Cherkessia.” Stavropol’s geographic location becomes all the more relevant in light of the current Russian security posture and fast-approaching Winter Games in Sochi, only 186 miles away. Currently the FSB has named three suspects in the murders, two of which are allegedly Islamist militants with a history of violent activity and murders. Both of the militants belong to a group that recently aligned with the primary Islamist terrorist organization in the region, the Caucasus Emirate.