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News 06 Aug 15

Macedonian Police Targets ISIS Suspects

The Macedonian police said they have launched a large-scale operation in several towns including the capital aimed at detaining suspected Islamist radicals.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Police said on Thursday that the ongoing operation is targeting suspected members of Islamic State and their helpers.

It is being carried out in the Skopje districts of Gazi Baba and Cair, as well as in the towns of Struga and Kumanovo, where several people have been detained. Searches are still being carried out in the town of Gostivar and other places around the country. 

Police said they were taking action to detain suspected participants in the wars in Syria and Iraq and would give more details once the operation is over.

They also said they had entered and searched several buildings next to a mosque in Skopje which, they alleged, “has long been out of the control of the [Macedonian] Islamic Religious Community, IVZ”.

Media have reported that an imam who does not accept the authority of the IVZ has been arrested, but this has not been officially confirmed. The IVZ has warned believers against joining the fighting in the Middle East.

Kumanovo was a scene of a two-day shootout in May between Albanian militants and police that left 22 dead, including eight police officers. Key details about the incident including the motives of the armed militants are still unknown.

Roughly a quarter of the Macedonian population are ethnic Albanians who are predominantly Muslim.  In the past few years, over ten Albanians who have been fighting in Syria have been reported killed. 

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