Russia launches probe into six deaths near Sochi

Posted Jan 10, 2014 by Karen Graham
Russia has launched a counter-terrorism investigation after six bodies were found riddled with bullets, in a region near the Winter Olympic host city of Sochi, just a few weeks before the start of the Games. Three explosive devices were found close by.
Visitors and police walk in the resort of Krasnaya Polyana  near Sochi
Visitors and police walk in the resort of Krasnaya Polyana, near Sochi
With permission by Reuters / Maxim Shemetov
Russian authorities are investigating a possible terrorism event, and two districts in the southern Stavropol region have been placed on alert after the bodies of six men were found in or close by some abandoned cars in a rural area outside the city of Pyatigorsk. One body appeared to be booby-trapped, according to local authorities.
The Stavropol region is close to and borders the Province of Krasnodar. This is where the Olympic city of Sochi is located, on the Black sea. The murders came about just one day after Russian authorities launched strict security measures in preparation for the coming Olympic Games.
The six victims apparently had been shot to death and placed in four of the cars. Three of the cars were rigged with explosive devices, and one device went off when police went to investigate one of the explosive devices.
Three of the bodies found in the cars have been identified, two being taxi-drivers, while the third man worked as a furniture assembler for a private businessman. The men were residents of the area, and local police said they drove inexpensive Soviet-made cars.
CNN is reporting that the day before this incident, a car with a body in it exploded in Tambukan, in Stravropol Province. This incident apparently is in addition to the discovery of the six victims found today.
Russia is particularly fearful of attacks by Islamic militants from the North Caucasus, especially since the two bombings on public transit in the southern city of Volograd last month. While no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, there is suspicion that Chechen separatists groups are responsible.
On Tuesday, Sochi was put in a special exclusion zone, with access into the area severely restricted. Additionally, 400 Cossacks were brought in on Thursday to assist the police during the Games and to provide security to visitors and athletes, as needed.