WASHINGTON – The U.S. government warned American and foreign airlines Wednesday that terrorists could try to hide explosives in toothpaste tubes on Russia-bound flights.
An official said it has information “specifically targeting flights to Russia,” where the Winter Olympics will begin in the resort city of Sochi on Friday.
In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said that, “out of an abundance of caution,” it regularly shares relevant information with partners both at home and abroad.
“While we are not aware of a specific threat to the homeland at this time, this routine communication is an important part of our commitment to making sure we meet that priority,” it said.
“As always, our security apparatus includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, and DHS will continue to adjust security measures to fit an ever evolving threat environment,” it said.
President Barack Obama’s National Security Council said the disclosure had not affected existing guidelines about travel to Sochi.
“If we should receive information in the coming days and weeks that changes our assessment of whether people should travel to Sochi, we will make that information public through the State Department’s usual channels,” spokeswoman Laura Magnuson said.
Stringent rules about liquids and toothpaste in hand luggage have been standard practice on U.S. carriers after a string of thwarted bomb plots in the years following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Security at the Feb. 7-23 games has been a major concern for Washington following two deadly December suicide attacks in the southern Russian city of Volgograd.
Adding to the concern is a stream of threats from Islamist militants in the volatile northern Caucasus region.
Earlier Wednesday, officials said two U.S. warships have arrived in the Black Sea and will stand ready to offer assistance in the case of a security emergency at the massive sports event.