Volgograd aka Stalingrad hit by two terrorist bombings while concerns rise for Sochi Olympics

Volgograd—a city of about one million—is Russia’s closest major metropolis to the North Caucasus. It is also a key transit center connecting the south of the country—including the Caucasus region—with the rest of Russia. After Monday’s attack, city authorities mobilized cadets from a local police academy and announced plans to bring in Cossack patrols to help maintain security.

Volgograd—previously known as Stalingrad—also is symbolic because of its importance to Russia’s past as the site of a historic World War II battle in which Nazi Germany’s advance into Russia was turned back.

“Volgograd, a symbol of Russia’s suffering and victory in World War II, has been singled out by the terrorist leaders precisely because of its status in people’s minds. Their aim is to hurt as many ordinary people as they can, and terrorize the rest,” said Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center.

While Russia’s security forces have struggled to suppress militant groups in the Caucasus region, Islamic terrorism has faded in the Russian heartland in recent years. Earlier this year, however, rebel leader Doku Umarov called for attacks against civilian targets in the run-up to the Sochi games.

A suicide bomber struck in the southwest Russian city of Volgograd on Monday morning, killing at least 14 people aboard a crowded trolley bus in the city’s second terrorist attack in less than 24 hours, stoking security fears in the country ahead of the upcoming Winter Olympics.

12 hour drive from Chechnya to Sochi Winter Olympics site

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