March 29, 2018 / 11:22 AM / 7 months ago

Kosovo arrests six Turks over links to Gulen schools -police

PRISTINA, March 29 (Reuters) - Kosovo police said on Thursday they had arrested six Turkish nationals linked to schools financed by the Fethullah Gulen movement, which Ankara has blamed for the failed coup in Turkey in 2016.

A police statement said raids connected with the arrests were continuing but did not say why the six Turks were taken into custody or provide further information for the time being.

Nazi Ulus, principal of one of the schools, told Reuters that one of the arrested Turks, Mustafa Erdem, was the director of all Gulen schools in Kosovo. He had no further information.

Some Balkan countries have faced pressure from Ankara to close private schools linked with Gulen, a U.S.-based Muslim cleric accused by Ankara of orchestrating the July 15 coup attempt. He denies any connection with the would-be coup.

But Kosovo, whose population is mainly Muslim, had said it had no plans to close down Gulen schools.

Turkey is a major supporter of impoverished Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and Turkish firms run the tiny Balkan country’s sole airport and electricity network, and are building two highways worth around $2 billion.

At its peak, the Gulen movement operated schools in 160 countries, from Afghanistan to the United States. Since Ankara declared the movement a terrorist organisation two years ago, it has pressured allies to shut down Gulen-run establishments.

In Turkey earlier on Thursday, the broadcaster CNN Turk said prosecutors ordered the detention of 70 serving army officers over alleged links to Gulen. (Reporting by Fatos Bytyci with additional reporting by Dominic Evans in Istanbul Writing by Ivana Sekularac Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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