Kosovo police said Thursday they prevented simultaneous attacks by the Daesh terrorist group, including on the Israeli national soccer team that played a World Cup qualifier in neighboring Albania.
A police statement said plans were in place to attack Saturday's match in Albania, and at the same time attack another target in Kosovo. Nineteen people were detained in Kosovo on Nov. 4, of whom one has since been released, police there said. Albania and Macedonia announced that six more people had been detained.
The Kosovo police said officers had found explosive devices, weapons and electronic equipment at the suspects' homes and premises, including "religious material and literature from well-known authors recognized for their extremist ideology."
The groups in the three countries, coordinated by two Albanians who are part of the Daesh terror group in Syria, had "clear targets on who and when should be attacked," police said, adding that it had sufficient evidence that certain persons were planning terrorist attacks in the Republic of Kosovo and against the Israeli football representation and their fans expected to participate in the football match.
The venue of the qualifier was changed for "security reasons" from the northern city of Shkoder, near the border with Montenegro, to Elbasan, much nearer to the capital Tirana. Israel won the match 3-0.
Both Kosovo and Albanian authorities claim that no more of their citizens have joined the rebel groups in Syria and Iraq over the past year, but scores of them remain active with Daesh fighting groups.
Kosovo, Serbia's mostly Albanian former province, is a dominantly Muslim country. It passed laws criminalizing volunteers fighting in wars, which effectively targets Daesh recruits.
Authorities in Pristina estimate that at least 300 nationals have joined the conflicts in the Middle East in recent years.