Russia says it foiled terrorist attacks in Sochi

Russian agents have foiled terror attack plans on the Black Sea

resort of Sochi, host of the 2014 Winter Games, and seized a large

amount of weapons and ammunition, authorities said Thursday.

Russia’s secret service agency FSB discovered ten caches of arms

and ammunition on May 4 and May 5 in Georgia’s breakaway republic

of Abkhazia, the country’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee said.

The region is very close to Sochi.

The arms seized included portable surface-to-air missiles,

grenade launchers, flame throwers, grenades, rifles and explosives

including TNT, it said.

The FSB said it suspects the attacks targeting Sochi were being

masterminded by Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov, whom it alleges

has close ties to Georgia’s secret service. The secret service said

Umarov coordinated the delivery of the weapons and ammunition to

Abkhazia and arranged caches for them.

Umarov has previously claimed responsibility for the 2011 deadly

bombing in a Moscow airport that killed 35 people.

Authorities said the terrorists were planning to smuggle the

explosives and arms to Sochi ”between 2012 and 2014 in order to

use them during the preparations and during the games.” They did

not elaborate on how they came to that conclusion but maps were

among the items found.

Sochi is less than dozen miles away from Russia’s border with

Abkhazia, a tiny region on the Black Sea that declared independence

from Georgia in 2008. Few countries other than Russia have

supported its independence.

Georgia and Russia, both former Soviet republics, had a brief

but intense war in 2008 and are still very distrustful of each

other.

However, Shota Khizanishvili, chief of staff at Georgia’s

Interior Ministry, denied any links between Georgia and Umarov.

”I can only say that the National Anti-Terrorist Committee is

staffed with people with peculiar fantasies,” Khizanishvili told

The Associated Press. ”They’re always trying to accuse Georgia and

its secret services of everything in any situation and without any

grounds. This is a sign of a severe paranoia.”

Sochi’s selection as the host of the 2014 Winter Games had

sparked fears of possible terrorist activity, although no attacks

have occurred so far. The city is located in the same area as

Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region, which is plagued with

near-daily violence linked to an Islamist insurgency that spread

from Chechnya to neighboring areas in the late 1990s.

The International Olympic Committee would not comment on the

specific case at Sochi but said in a statement that ”security is a

top priority for the IOC.

”Security at the games is the responsibility of the local

authorities and we have no doubt that the Russians will be up to

the task,” the statement said.

Misha Dzhindzhikhashvili from Tbilisi, Georgia, and Steve Wilson

in London contributed to this report.