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News 23 Nov 15

Bosnia Ponders Tougher Anti-Terrorism Measures

After last week’s shooting of two soldiers in Sarajevo, Bosnian officials said the country needs new legislation to tackle the threat of terrorism.

Srecko Latal

Bosnia and Herzegovina needs a new anti-terrorism law to give the security services and prosecutors a stronger mandate to tackle threats, Bosnia's Security Minister Dragan Mektic told media on Sunday.

“We have to create mechanisms which in the case of a greater terrorist threat or some bigger terrorist act, we can declare an emergency situation in a certain area and give an additional mandate to the police,” Mektic said.

His statement came as the authorities continued to investigate the motives for last week's attack in which a Bosniak killed two off-duty soldiers and injured three other people in a shooting spree – murders which came less than a week after the Islamist violence in Paris.

The gunman, whose relative is linked to radical Islamic groups, later committed suicide following a stand-off with police officers.

Mektic has previously told BIRN that the lack of proper coordination among Bosnia's decentralized police, security and judicial institutions is jeopardizing the security situation in the country.

The president of Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, said on Sunday meanwhile that leaders of all three main ethnic groups in Bosnia - Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs - need to work together to tackle the issue of terrorism.

Dodik argued that the seeds of terrorism were planted during the 1992-95 war, when the West allowed foreign Mujahideen fighters to come to Bosnia and fight on the Bosniak side.

He said that many of them were allowed to stay after the war and claimed there are now radical Islamic groups in the country who are not controlled by Bosnia's Islamic Community, the religious organisation that represents the country’s Muslims.

He stressed that Bosniaks must not be equated with Mujahideen radicals, but insisted that Bosniak leaders have to address the issue.

"For starters, it is necessary for Bosniak politicians to lead this fight and without hesitation characterize acts of terrorism as such," Dodik said in a joint interview with Radio-Television Republika Srpska and Radio Belgrade.

However, a senior Bosnian official told BIRN on Monday that Dodik and his long-term drive to weaken Bosnia's state institutions has contributed to the poor coordination among the country’s state and entity agencies.

Meanwhile Aljosa Campara, minister of security in the government of the other Bosnian entity, the Federation, said politicians were united in their belief that violent radicalism must be stopped.

"As far as radical Islamic groups are concerned, such as those Salafi communities which operate outside of the institutions of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is no a single politician who does not support every kind of fight against this kind of extremism as well as all forms of terrorism," Campara said in an interview with Mostar-based newspaper Dnevni List on Monday.

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