On Monday morning, a suicide bomber in Volgograd, Russia, killed at least 15 people and wounded dozens more in an electric trolley bus bombing. One day earlier, another attack killed 17 at the city's main train station. The two bombings were "only a little more than a mile and half" apart, the New York Times noted.
While any act of terrorism is terrible, these two attacks are especially unnerving in a different light: The Olympic Games are due to start in just six weeks in Sochi, and the attacks have reportedly raised questions of Russia's readiness to host such a massive event.
According to CNN, Volgograd is a major rail hub in southern Russia and a main transit point for people traveling by train to Sochi on the Black Sea, just over 600 miles to the southwest. Each day, thousands of passengers use the city's train station.
The United States condemned the Volgograd attacks on Monday and offered its "full support to the Russian government in security preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has reportedly emphasized that the Sochi games will be safe and that security will be tight. Visitors to Sochi and the surrounding area are subjected to "rigorous security checks," and vehicle license plates are monitored. The BBC is reporting that security has been tightened at railway stations and airports throughout the country.
The question remains, however, as to what other steps Russia will take to ensure the safety and security of visitors before, during and after the Games. The fact that the terrorists (who have not yet stepped forward to identify themselves and claim responsibility for the attacks) struck Volgograd's transportation infrastructure may also strike a blow to the city--and the country's--travel industry. If people do not feel safe moving around urban hubs, they may well avoid the destination.
Image courtesy of www.volganet.ru.