Kosovo says plot to attack political leaders foiled

Kosovo says plot to attack political leaders foiled
By bne IntelliNews April 17, 2017

Security was beefed up in Kosovo over the Easter weekend after the authorities said they had uncovered a plot to attack political leaders and other government officials. 

The government statement on the situation in the country did not specify from where the threat originated, but implied the involvement of foreign countries. In recent months police in both Kosovo and Italy have arrested Kosovans suspected of involvement in several separate terrorist plots. 

No incidents were reported in the country over the weekend, after security was hiked in Kosovo and neighbouring Albania, including at churches in both countries, as well as at border crossings and on busy streets. 

The April 14 statement said that the alleged plot “is estimated to be related to people with questionable pasts, working with groups and services of some countries … as well as particular countries which aim to destabilise Kosovo.”

The statement added that the groups “planned to commit acts against some institutional leaders and political officials.” 

An Albanian national has reportedly been arrested in the Kosovan town of Peja on suspicion of planning a terror attack ahead of Easter, according to local news site Gazeta Express. 

The US embassy in Pristina issued a warning to its citizens in Kosovo on April 13, urging “particular caution” over the Easter holiday.  

“Terrorists in the region have previously sought to attack soft targets, to include churches and other places of worship, pedestrian malls, sports arenas, concert halls, and public gatherings,” the statement said. 

However, the following day, Kosovan police said they had assessed the situation in the country as “quiet and stable”. 

About 300 Kosovo Albanians have joined Islamic State (IS) since 2011, which is the highest number in per capita terms across Europe. Last year, the number dropped after the government tackled recruitment by radical imams and launched an education campaign.

In March, Italian police detained four Kosovans on suspicion of plotting to blow up the famous Rialto Bridge in Venice. Last November, another Kosovan was expelled from Italy over alleged links to terrorism. 

In November 2016, Kosovan police arrested 19 people suspected of planning terror attacks in Kosovo including an attack against the Israeli football representation and their fans expected to participate in the World Cup qualifier Albania-Israel. In December, two brothers from Kosovo were arrested in Germany as they were suspected of planning an attack on a shopping centre in the city of Oberhausen.