US warns of explosives in toothpaste tubes
February 6, 2014, 2:30 pm TWN
WASHINGTON/SOCHI — The U.S. Homeland Security Department is warning airlines flying to Russia that terrorists may try to smuggle explosives on board hidden in toothpaste tubes.
The threat was passed onto airlines that have direct flights to Russia, including some that originate in the United States, according to a law enforcement official speaking Wednesday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the warning.
The official said the airlines were warned that explosive devices could be assembled in flight or upon arrival at the Olympics.
The department said in a statement that the U.S. "isn't aware of a specific threat to the homeland at this time." It said the department "regularly shares information with domestic and international partners, including those associated with international events such as the Sochi Olympics."
Delta Airlines is the only U.S. carrier with a direct flight from the United States to Moscow. Russian airlines Aeroflot and Transaero both operate several nonstop flights from the U.S.
United Airlines, the official airline of the U.S. Olympic team, does not have scheduled service to Russia but is operating some charter flights to Sochi.
The warning became public on the eve of the Winter Olympics.
UN leader issues another call for Olympic truce
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has reiterated his appeal for warring parties around the world to lay down arms during the Sochi Olympics.
Ban urged an observance of an "Olympic Truce" in a speech to the International Olympic Committee. He spoke Thursday, a day before the opening of the Winter Games in Russia.
Ban said: "I repeat my call, again and again, for all warring parties to lay down their weapons during the games." He cited conflicts in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
Ban says a truce would allow for the delivery of "life-saving humanitarian aid to suffering people."
Ban adds that he opposes discrimination of any kind, including on grounds of "sexual orientation and gender identity."
Russia is under scrutiny for its law against gay "propaganda" among minors.