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NATO chief warns of returning jihadists threat

24 january 2015, 13:34

 Visiting NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Friday warned authorities in mainly Muslim Kosovo of the danger posed by foreign fighters returning from Syria and Iraq, AFP reports.

“The returning of foreign fighters is imposing a threat to all of us, of course to the countries in the region and to all European countries,” Stoltenberg told reporters.

“Therefore we have to work together in fighting terror regardless of what kind of terror it is. And terror is not something which belongs to specific group or religion.”

Earlier Friday Stoltenberg visited NATO-led international forces (KFOR) in the former Serbian province that proclaimed independence in 2008.

NATO launched its mission in Kosovo after the 1998-1999 war between the forces of then Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic and ethnic Albanian guerrillas.

Last August and September Kosovo police arrested 55 people suspected of fighting or recruiting people to fight alongside Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria as well as promoting radical Islam.

Kosovo, with a population of 1.78 million is a Muslim-majority country, although religion plays only a minor part in public life and tends to take a very moderate form.

However, according to intelligence estimates, as many as 150 Kosovars are thought to have volunteered to fight in the Syrian civil war against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. Police say at least 16 have been killed so far.

Stoltenberg also met with top Kosovo officials and praised their anti-terrorism policy namely a bill, being reviewed by the parliament, that foresees severe prison terms for those fighting abroad.

“I welcome very much what the new government and Kosovo is doing in fighting terrorism, and also the new laws that you agreed,” he said.

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