Kosovo court detains five suspected militants after police find weapons cache

A court in Kosovo on Tuesday ordered 30 days of pretrial detention for five suspects arrested last weekend as part of a months-long investigation in which police uncovered a cache of weapons and explosives.

Prosecutors said in a statement the five suspects were planning to commit attacks against Kosovo’s “constitutional order” and that they would remain in detention pending indictments.

Media in Pristina have reported that two suspects had previously travelled to conflict zones in Syria and that all five were followers of militant Islamic groups.

In a document seen by Reuters, the prosecution said it had used surveillance and other covert methods to discover that the suspects wanted to buy anti-tank rocket launchers and other weapons “for the purpose of preparing terrorist acts in Kosovo”.

Investigators have also organised a simulated weapons purchase, it said.

Kosovo police said that a raid this weekend yielded an anti-tank rocket launcher, assault rifles, ammunition, rockets, explosives, a drone and money.

The Western Balkans, comprising Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, North Macedonia and Albania, is awash with weapons, the legacy of bloody ethnic wars in 1990s.

Tome Gashi, a lawyer for one of the suspects, rejected charges against his client.

“My client is accused of giving another defendant 700 euros ($810) to buy an rocket-propelled grenade launcher but these accusations are nonsense,” Gashi told Reuters.

Gashi said his client was suspected of similar charges four years ago.

Predominantly Muslim but largely secular Kosovo has not seen any attacks by Islamic militants. Since 2013, around 300 Kosovars have joined Islamic groups in wars in Syria and Iraq and around 100 have been killed there.

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