Police in Kosovo say they have prevented simultaneous “terror” attacks by Islamic State, including one on the Israeli national football team,Sky News reports.
The attacks were planned for Kosovo and neighbouring Albania, where Israel played a World Cup qualifying match on Saturday, according to police. They said 19 suspects were arrested in Kosovo ahead of the match, and Albania and Macedonia said another six were detained there.
“They were planning to commit terrorist attacks in Kosovo and also (an attack) against Israeli football team and their fans during the Albania-Israel match,” said a police statement.
Explosive devices, weapons and electronic equipment were found during searches of the suspects’ homes. They are said to have had “clear targets on who and when should be attacked”.
Police said they also discovered “religious material and literature from well-known authors recognised for their extremist ideology” during the searches.
The venue for Saturday’s match, which Israel won 3-0, was switched for security reasons from the northern city of Shkoder, near the border with Montenegro. It was played instead in Elbasan, situated southeast of the capital Tirana.
Hundreds of people from Kosovo and Albania are known to be active in IS fighting groups in Syria and Iraq, but the authorities in both countries claim no more of their citizens have joined the terror group in the last year.
At least 200 people have been detained or investigated in Kosovo over their alleged links with IS in recent years, and more than 50 Kosovars have been killed in Syria. There are concerns that many of those returning home from combat zones could pose a security threat to the region.