By Erjone Popova
Kosovo authorities have urged citizens to stay away from crowded places after a meeting headed by the PM said risk of attacks was ‘real’.
Kosovo police have increased patrols in the streets and started intensive screening of individuals and vehicles at borders amid growing fears of terrorist attacks.
Prime Minister Isa Mustafa and security officials announced a state of alert and exceptional measures at a Kosovo Security Council meeting on Monday.
There were “real risks associated with terrorism”, according to the Prime Minister’s Press Office.
“Based on recent evaluations, security measures in the country have increased,” police spokesperson Baki Kelani told BIRN.
Police have urged citizens to “be vigilant and to avoid whenever they can crowded places such as concerts, sport events, nightclubs, bus stations or shopping centres.”
Naim Ramizi, owner of Jurnal Caffe in Pristina, told BIRN on Wednesday that the police had invited him and other bar owners to discuss security concerns.
“We were told that if we see anything suspicious in our venues or unusual behaviour by people, to call the police”, Ramizi said.
Edon Myftari, security policy adviser to the Prime Minister, said Kosovo has the capacity to address terrorism, but extra care was necessary.
“When addressing terrorism, there is no room for complacency,” he said, adding that efforts “must be continuous and [conducted] in full cooperation with other friendly countries”, Myftari told BIRN on Tuesday.
Security institutions attending the Security Council meeting announced extra operational readiness, including more police patrols in public areas, government institutions, diplomatic residences and in multiethnic and religious environments.
Operational plans “for the supervision of persons or certain groups”, were listed among the prevention measures mentioned by Prime Minister Mustafa’s press office.
Around 40 Islamist hardliners, including imams and alleged former fighters in the Middle East, are on trial in Kosovo following a crackdown that lasted from autumn 2014 to spring 2015.
More than 200 fighters from Kosovo have reportedly joined the ranks of ISIS and Al Nusra in Syria and Iraq.