Bosnia arrests 11 suspected Islamic militants

Bosnian police officers hold a suspect who was detained during a planned raid in Sarajevo, on Sept 3, 2014. Police in Bosnia on Nov 13, 2014, arrested another 11 people suspected of fighting alongside Islamist forces in Syria and Iraq and assist
Bosnian police officers hold a suspect who was detained during a planned raid in Sarajevo, on Sept 3, 2014. Police in Bosnia on Nov 13, 2014, arrested another 11 people suspected of fighting alongside Islamist forces in Syria and Iraq and assisting terrorist activities in the two countries. -- PHOTO: AFP

SARAJEVO (AFP) - Police in Bosnia on Thursday arrested 11 people suspected of fighting alongside Islamist forces in Syria and Iraq and assisting terrorist activities in the two countries.

"Eleven suspects were arrested and searches are ongoing on several locations" including in the capital Sarajevo and other towns, a police statement said.

The state prosecutor's office said those arrested were suspected of "having financed terrorist activities, organising terrorist groups or illegally joining foreign paramilitary formations."

Among the arrested, several are suspected of "fighting alongside radical terrorist groups and organisations" in Syria or Iraq last year, it said.

The arrests on Thursday were the second part of a security operation - dubbed "Damascus" - launched in September. At the time 16 suspected extremists were arrested of whom five remanded in custody.

Bosnia passed a law in April imposing up to 10 years prison on convicted Islamist radicals and their recruiters.

Around 150 Bosnian citizens have joined Islamist groups fighting in Iraq and Syria and some 20 have been killed there, according to officials' estimates.

Bosnia's Muslims, who make up 40 percent of the country's 3.8 million inhabitants, mostly practise a moderate form of Islam.

However, during the 1992-1995 war between Croats, Muslims and Serbs, a large number of Islamic volunteers came to Bosnia and many stayed on in the country.