Kosovo arrests two suspected of plotting attacks on NATO

PRISTINA (Reuters) - Kosovo has arrested two people, including a Belgian national, suspected of planning attacks on NATO troops and the public in Kosovo, Belgium and France, the state prosecutor said on Friday.

The prosecutor’s office said in a statement that on June 2 the pair, a man and a woman, spoke by telephone of preparing “terrorist attacks and commit suicide attacks with explosives with a car against KFOR (NATO-led Kosovo Force) soldiers in Kosovo and to attack places frequented by citizens.”

They were taken into custody on Wednesday.

The man, identified only as a 26-year-old Belgian national, was living with the woman, identified as a 25-year-old residing near the capital Pristina. According to the prosecution the man was also preparing suicide attacks in public places in Belgium and France.

“My client is suspected of preparing to commit terrorism acts ... but I don’t agree with the prosecution because they have not offered any evidence to detain him,” said attorney Arber Rexha, who is representing the man.

A senior police officer told Reuters that the probe had been expanded and more suspects were being investigated.

The official said police were able to record telephone conversations between the suspects in which they were planning attacks.

The NATO mission told Reuters this was an issue for the Kosovo police.

NATO has some 4,500 soldiers in Kosovo helping to keep a fragile peace. The European Union and the United Nations also have security and diplomatic missions there.

Some 300 Kosovo nationals went Syria to fight for Islamic State and more than 50 have been killed there. This has raised concerns that some could return and pose security threats, Kosovo authorities said.

In May Kosovo court jailed eight men for plotting to attack the Israeli national soccer team in Albania in a World Cup qualifying match in 2016.

Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Robin Pomeroy, Toni Reinhold