Police in Kosovo have arrested a group suspected of preparing an attack on the Israeli football team and their fans during a match in Albania. The group was controlled by members of the "Islamic State," officials said.
The alleged terror cell was planning "synchronized terrorist attacks" in Kosovo and Albania, security forces said on Thursday.
The Kosovo authorities arrested 19 people and seized explosives, weapons and a drone in a series of raids during the last 10 days. Also, the investigators found "religious material and literature from well-known authors recognized for their extremist ideology."
Albania and Macedonia also announced that six more people were detained.
According to the authorities, the group is controlled by two "Islamic State" members, ethnic Albanians currently in Syria. The suspects have "clear targets on who and when should be attacked."
Match relocated for security
Most notably, the group was preparing a strike "against the Israeli football team and their fans during the Albania-Israel match" last Saturday, the police said. The Albanian authorities moved the World Cup qualifier from the coastal Shkoder to the capital, Tirana, for security reasons.
The majority of the population in the former Serbian province of Kosovo are ethnic Albanians and nominally Muslim. Although the population is dominantly secular, authorities estimate that at least 300 of its nationals joined the fighting in the Middle East during recent years. At least 200 more are under investigation or in jail for alleged links with the "Islamic State."
Last year, the country introduced a new law with sentences of up to 15 years for anyone found guilty of fighting abroad.
dj/sms (dpa, Reuters, AP)