MOSCOW, January 20 (RIA Novosti) – An Islamist terrorist group with roots in Iraq has claimed responsibility for suicide bombings last month in Russia’s southern city of Volgograd and threatened more attacks during the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
In a video posted on YouTube, two Russian-speaking men, identified only as Suleiman and Abdurakhman, claim to be members of the Jamaat Ansar al-Sunnah Wahabbi militant group reportedly based in Iraq.
Two suicide bombings killed 34 and injured many others late December in separate attacks on a train station and on a trolleybus. Tha attacks prompted a tightening of security measures ahead of the Games, which are due to open on February 7.
The 49-minute video appears to show preparations for the attacks, including explosives being strapped to people’s bodies. The faces of the people to whom the bombs are being strapped are not shown in the footage, but introductory text states Suleiman and Abdurakhman carried out the attacks.
Nobody has to date claimed responsibility for the explosions in Volgograd.
The video was originally released online Saturday, and surfaced by Sunday on a website that generally serves as a mouthpiece of North Caucasus militant groups seeking to establish an independent Islamic state.
One of the men in the video said the bombings were a response to the Russia authorities’ actions in the North Caucasus and threatened more attacks, including some targeting the Olympics.
Earlier in July, the Chechen leader of the Caucasus Emirate, Doku Umarov, had ordered attacks on the Olympics. Last week, the Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, claimed he had evidence that Umarov had died recently.
In response to the terrorist attacks, Russia has introduced unprecedented security measures for the Games.
Islamist fighters, once confined largely to Chechnya, have spread across the North Caucasus in recent years, and are frequently linked to the attacks on security forces, police and civilians.