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News 24 Nov 16

Kosovo Expert Downplays US Terrorist Attack Warning

Following the US State Department's alert to travellers to Europe over the holiday season, a Kosovo expert says the Balkans faces little risk of terror attacks of the kind seen in France.

Danilo Hinic BIRN Belgrade
US State Department has issued an statement about high risk of new terrorist attacks in Europe during winter holidays on November 21. Photo: Pixabay

Shpend Kursani, from the Kosovar Center for Security Studies, says large-scale terrorist attacks organized by groups like ISIS are unlikely to affect the Balkans over the coming holiday.

Commenting on the latest US State Department latest travel alert, he said: “The Balkans is not free from [the risk of] terrorist attacks, but I am confident that the Balkans will not see or experience anything close to what Europe has seen and experienced recently in terms of the scope, magnitude, and frequency of the attacks.

“Although a considerable number of foreign fighters left the Balkans [for the Middle East], the region has not seen and probably will not see the attacks that we’ve seen in Europe recently,” Kursani said, noting that the Balkans is not an especially popular tourist destination for US citizens.

On November 21, the US State Department warned US citizens of the risk of terrorist attacks in Europe during the winter holidays.

It advised Americans to pay special attention at public gatherings such as festivals and outdoor markets. The State Department stated that Europe faces the risk of new attacks but did not mention countries by name.

Mainly Muslim Kosovo and Albania are keeping a close eye on domestic Islamists. Last week, Kosovo police in cooperation with Macedonian and Albanian intelligence agencies arrested 19 people suspected of planning terrorist attacks on the recent Israel-Albania World Cup qualifying match in Albania, and in Kosovo.

Kosovo police told BIRN that the suspects had close links to ISIS and that some of them were senior members.

Kursani stated that the US travel alert was only a general warning for US citizens traveling to European countries but does not specify any country as being especially risky.

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Background

Western Balkans on Alert Over ISIS Threat

Countries in the region have raised security levels and introduced new precautions to counter the threat of terrorist attacks by Islamic State.

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