Kosovo police say Islamic State attack on Israeli football team foiled

The attacks were planned for Kosovo and neighbouring Albania, where Israel played a World Cup qualifying match on Saturday, say police

Police, Kosovo

Image: Visar Kryeziu / AP/Press Association Images

Police in Kosovo say they have prevented simultaneous attacks by Islamic State, including one on the Israeli national soccer team.

The attacks were planned for Kosovo and neighbouring Albania, where Israel played a World Cup qualifying match on Saturday, say police.

They said 19 suspects were arrested in Kosovo and another six in Albania or Macedonia. Four of the people detained have since been released.

"They were planning to commit terrorist attacks in Kosovo and also (an attack) against Israeli football team and their fans during the Albania-Israel match," said a police statement.

No details have been released of other possible targets.

Explosives devices, weapons and electronics equipment were found during searches of the suspects' homes, say police.

They are said to have had ""clear targets on who and when should be attacked".

The venue for Saturday's match, which Israel won 3-0, was switched for security reasons from the northern city of Shkoder, near the border with Montenegro.

It was played instead in Elbasan, which is much nearer to the capital Tirana. 

Police in Kosovo say they had also discovered "religious material and literature from well-known authors recognised for their extremist ideology".

Hundreds of people from Kosovo and Albania are known to be active in IS fighting groups in Syria and Iraq, but the authorities in both countries claim no more of their citizens have joined IS in the last year.

At least 200 people have been detained or investigated in Kosovo over their alleged links with IS in recent years.

More than 50 people from Kosovo have been killed there.

There are concerns that many of those returning home from combat zones could pose a security threat to the region.