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Olympic Torch Enters Volatile Caucasus Ahead of Sochi Games

The Olympic torch arrived Thursday in the North Caucasus region of Russia, the turbulent center of concern about potential terrorist attempts on the upcoming Sochi Games.

The city of Pyatigorsk was stop No. 121 of 135 before the torch arrives in Sochi for the opening ceremony Feb. 7.

As the torch arrived, Russian special forces pressed ahead with a campaign in the Caucasus to round up suspected militants there. They announced no arrests or killings on Thursday.

Islamist militants from the Caucasus have threatened to attack the Olympics — and the relay itself — and notices posted in Sochi this week have warned hotels to be on the lookout for suspected terrorists from the region who may be planning something.

Russia is spending an estimated $50 billion on the games, much of it on the “ring of steel,” an intensified security zone comprising 1,500 square miles in and around Sochi, and enforced by almost 40,000 troops.

The Olympic teams of the United States and five European countries received threatening letters earlier this week, but the International Olympic Committee dismissed them as hoaxes, and Russian organizers stressed on Thursday that the games were safe.

“All necessary security measures have been taken and safety will be ensured,” Alexander Zhukov, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee, told reporters in Moscow.

On Monday, the torch is to pass through the Caucasus city of Makhachkala. The family of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the two men accused of bombing the Boston Marathon, moved there in 2001, before the brothers came to the United States.

Reuters contributed to this report.