January 30 - France is sending its own team of security personnel to Sochi 2014 to protect its athletes and fans against the threat of terrorist attacks, French Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron has announced.
French national police (RAID) and Gendarmerie Special Operations units (GIGN) will travel to the Russian city along with members of the French external intelligence agency (DGSE) to offer extra protection to the 116 French athletes competing at the Winter Olympics.
"We have done some preparatory work with our experts and everything has been done to make sure our athletes and fans are safe," Fourneyron told French newspaper Le Parisien.
"GIGN and RAID will be at the athletes' side (and) DGSE will liaise with the Russian authorities.
"There will be maximal vigilance."
The announcement by Fourneyron comes as fears over terrorist attacks from mainly Islamic militants at Sochi 2014 continue to cast a shadow over the Games.
A spate of terrorist attacks in recent weeks from insurgents based in the North Caucasus region seeking to establish an Islamic state, has led to the Russian Government implementing the largest security operation ever launched ahead of an Olympic Games.
In December, a double suicide bombing in Volgograd killed 34 people, while six bodies and a booby-trapped car were found in the Stavropol region of the country earlier this month.
Russian authorities also defused a homemade bomb in the southern city of Nalchik and arrested five members of a banned militant group.
In a separate incident, three members of the Russian Special Forces unit were killed along with four gunmen during a shoot-out earlier this month in the city of Khasavyurt in Dagestan
Last week, Islamic militants released a video claiming responsibility for the Volgograd bombings and have threatened to carry out more attacks during Sochi 2014.
In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a massive security crackdown which will see more than 30,000 police and Interior Ministry troops deployed with measures to restrict vehicle access, the sale of firearms, explosives and ammunition now in operation.
Closed circuit television and surveillance drones will also be used to identify possible issues, while Putin also introduced additional anti-terrorism legislation into the Russian Duma.
It includes the introduction of prison terms of up to 10 years for those who receive training "aimed at carrying out terrorist activity".
Earlier this month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced it will be deploying around two dozen agents and other personnel in the Russian capital Moscow, while more than a dozen will be based in Sochi itself during the Games to provide extra support to the Russian security operation.
The British Olympic Association has also said it will use additional security forces during the Games, although this was planned from the outset and represents a similar strategy used in other recent Games.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
January 2014: Terrorist attacks in Russia to disrupt Sochi Olympics "very likely", say British officials
January 2014: Militants threaten more attacks in Russia as Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch reaches Volgograd region
January 2014: FBI agents to be sent to Russia to help protect US team during Sochi 2014
January 2014: Russia begins implementing biggest security operation in Olympic history with month until Sochi 2014
January 2014: Russia detains hundreds as Olympic world reacts to Volgograd bombings