WASHINGTON: The US warned American and foreign airlines ahead of the Sochi Olympics that terrorists could try to hide explosives in toothpaste tubes on Russia-bound flights.
An official said the government had information “targeting flights to Russia,” where the Winter Games start today.
In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said, “out of an abundance of caution”, it regularly shares information with partners at home and abroad.
President Barack Obama’s National Security Council said the disclosure had not affected guidelines about travel to Sochi.
“If we receive information in the coming days and weeks that changes our assessment of whether people should travel to Sochi, we will make that information public through the State Department,” spokeswoman Laura Magnuson said.
Stringent rules about liquids and toothpaste in hand luggage have been standard practice on US carriers after thwarted bomb plots in the years following the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Security at the Games, which end on February 23, has been a major concern for the US following two deadly December suicide attacks in the southern Russian city of Volgograd. Adding to the nervousness is a stream of threats from Islamist militants in the volatile northern Caucasus region. But prominent lawmakers have warned of the heightened risk of attacks and complained that Russia was not sharing intelligence.
Some have said they would advise their constituents and family members to stay away.
The State Department has issued a travel alert for Russia, urging Americans to “remain attentive regarding their personal security at all times.”
And athletes have been advised to avoid wearing their uniforms or Team USA logos outside Olympic venues. US counter-terrorism officials have warned that the biggest security threat is a possible attack outside Sochi and its heavily-guarded venues.AFP