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Kosovo police say terror attack on Israeli team prevented

Associated Press Associated Press 17/11/2016
Albanian Police forces line up in front of Elbasan Arena stadium where Albania will play their World Cup 2018 qualifying soccer match against Israel under tight security measures in Elbasan, 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the capital, Tirana, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Police have taken extreme steps after media reports that an alleged terror group of 15 persons, arrested in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia, planned an attack during the match. The venue was changed for "security reasons" from the northern city of Shkoder to Elbasan. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu) © The Associated Press Albanian Police forces line up in front of Elbasan Arena stadium where Albania will play their World Cup 2018 qualifying soccer match against Israel under tight security measures in Elbasan, 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the capital, Tirana, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Police have taken extreme steps after media reports that an alleged terror group of 15 persons, arrested in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia, planned an attack during the match. The venue was changed for "security reasons" from the northern city of Shkoder to Elbasan. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovo police said Thursday they prevented simultaneous attacks by the Islamic State 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 six more people detained.

The Kosovo police said that at the suspects' homes and premises officers found explosive devices, weapons and electronic equipment, 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 IS terror group in Syria, had "clear targets on who and when should be attacked," police said.

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 IS fighting groups.

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