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Italian Olympic Committee receives Sochi terror threat

CONI 'serene', trusts security measures

22 January, 16:56
Italian Olympic Committee receives Sochi terror threat (By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Rome, January 22 - The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) on Wednesday received terrorist threats against athletes competing in next month's Winter Olympics in the Russian ski resort of Sochi. In response, CONI said it was confident about the security measures for the February 7-23 Games, which an Islamist group from Russia's North Caucasus has threatened to target.

"CONI expresses its trust and serenity in the security measures that have been guaranteed by the organizers," a statement read.

Other Olympic committees received similar threats, including Hungary's, Britain's and Slovenia's.

The British Olympic Association described the email threat it received as "not credible".

Hungary's committee said a threat against its athletes had been investigated and declared "non-threatening". The threats were reportedly made in Russian and English.

They come after Russian security officials said they were hunting three potential female suicide bombers ahead of the games.

One of the suspects, 22-year-old Ruzanna Ibragimova - the widow of a suicide bomber - was reported to be at large in Sochi itself.

The other two suspects were identified as Zaira Aliyeva, 26, and Dzhannet Tsakhayeva, 34.

Police said the three were been trained "to perpetrate acts of terrorism".

Last month the southern Russian city of Volgograd was rocked by two suicide bombings, which killed 34 and injured dozens more.

Italy will take a team of around 120 athletes to Sochi.

The government has said Premier Enrico Letta intends to go to the opening ceremony, unless something unexpected occurs.

CONI President Giovanni Malago' has said he is confident the Italian team will perform better this time than four years ago at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Italy won five medals in Canada, including one gold, Giuliano Razzoli's victory in the men's slalom skiing.

"If we win one more medal than last time, it'll mean we've done better," said Malago'.

"We know that the colour of the medal is a lottery... and it's a slender line between the podium and fourth place, especially in winter sports. "We have some strong points and some weak points, but lots of cards to play".