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Potential suicide bombers in Sochi

Russian security officials are hunting down three potential female suicide bombers, one of whom is believed to be in Sochi, where the Winter Olympics will begin next month.

Police leaflets seen by an Associated Press reporter at a central Sochi hotel on Tuesday contain warnings about three potential suicide bombers. A police letter said that one of them, Ruzanna Ibragimova, a 22-year-old widow of an Islamic militant, was at large in Sochi.

Russian authorities have blamed the so-called "black widows" of slain insurgents for previous suicide attacks in the country.

A video published on a Russian extremist website claims to show a militant group warning of a 'surprise package' at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

Security officials in Sochi were not available for comment on Tuesday. The Black Sea resort town will host the games in February amid concerns about security and potential terrorist attacks.

The southern city of Volgograd was rocked by two suicide bombings in late December, which killed 34 and injures scores more. An Islamic militant group in Dagestan on Monday posted a video claiming responsibility for the bombings and threatened to strike the games in Sochi, about 500 kilometres west of Dagestan.

Police material distributed to the hotel staff also included pictures of two other women in veils: 26-year-old Zaira Aliyeva and 34-year-old Dzhannet Tsakhayeva. It said they had been trained "to perpetrate acts of terrorism."

It warned that the two women "are probably among us," but, unlike Ibragimova's case, did not say if they are in Sochi.

The Olympics are to be held Feb. 7-23. Russia has mounted an intense security operation in the city, but concern persists that "soft targets" outside the Olympic venues, such as buses and tourist facilities, are vulnerable to attack.

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