Russia Arrests Five ‘Terror Suspects’ as Country Remains Alert
Russia Arrests Five ‘Terror Suspects’ as Country Remains AlertReuters

Russian police have detained five terror suspects in one of the North Caucasus regions, amid fears that militants might try and cause harm in the run up to the Sochi Winter Olympics in February.

Police busted the members of a "banned international terrorist organization" in the town of Nalchik, some 300 kilometers east of Sochi, in an incident that heightens security fears less than a month before the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The National Anti-Terrorism Committee said that they were in possession of grenades, ammunition and a self-made explosive device packed with shrapnel. The committee did not name the group the suspects allegedly belonged to, and gave no further details as well.

Concerns of threats by Islamist militants have led to the deployment of more than 30,000 police and interior ministry troops in the region. Security fears have been heightened at the wake of two suicide bomb attacks in the southern city of Volgograd, on 29 and 30 December, in which 34 people were killed and 100 others wounded.

Though no groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks, they are said to be similar in nature to previous attacks by Islamist militants operating from North Caucasus, an area where anti-Russian sentiments are widespread.

Further heightening the security fears, police on Thursday found four cars with six bullet-riddled bodies near the city of Pyatigorsk, about 275 kilometers from Sochi.

Reports suggest that the explosive devices had been placed in three of the cars, and though one detonated, no one was hurt.

The recent bombings have prompted President Vladimir Putin to launch one of the biggest security arrangements for the Olympics. He has indicated that he would personally inspect sites of the games.

Meanwhile, more than 700 people have been arrested following the twin bombings in Volgograd.

Vehicles not registered in Sochi will be banned from entering the city with the exception of those vehicles with special accreditation. The sale of firearms, explosives and ammunition will be prohibited in the area.

Russian government has announced the establishment of two security zones to protect the event which is due to take place from 6 to 23 February. A "controlled zone" will be in place around the games venue, limiting access to people strictly with tickets and identity proofs. A "forbidden zone", on the other hand, will be in place in large areas around Sochi and will include large scale security measures.