Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina Several people suspected of having links to global terrorism were arrested over the past few days, including two who were found with box cutters near Sarajevo's airport, Bosnian authorities said Monday.
The arrests were made by Bosnian police and by SFOR, the NATO-led peacekeeping force deployed in Bosnia following the 1992-95 war.
SFOR troops arrested four people last week in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza, SFOR spokesman Capt. Daryl Morrell said Monday. He did not release further details, but Bosnian television said Sunday night that two of the four were foreign citizens and the others were Bosnians.
Bosnian television identified the two Bosnian suspects as Nihad Karcic and Armin Harbaus and said they were employed by the Saudi humanitarian organization Makath. According to the report, SFOR also seized documents, computers and dlrs 60,000 in cash from the organization.
Bosnian police made several separate arrests last week, Federation Interior Minister Muhamed Besic told The Associated Press on Monday.
Some of those arrested were later released, but others remained in detention as suspects "who could be involved in terrorism," Besic said. He refused to elaborate.
A high-ranking Bosnian government official told the AP on condition of anonymity that two of the people arrested in the last few days were foreign citizens from Islamic countries. They were apparently found close to the Sarajevo airport with box-cutters, which were used by hijackers during the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
"We are working together with SFOR and other international organizations and the operation is ongoing," Besic said. "This fight against terrorism will last for a long time. To fight terrorism is not easy."
The Interior Ministry also asked five Pakistani citizens in Bosnia on tourist visas to leave the country, Besic said. They left Sarajevo on Sunday.
Thousands of Islamic fighters arrived in Bosnia at the very beginning of the war to help Bosnian Muslims fight Serbs and Croats. Most of them left after the war when NATO troops deployed, but a small number stayed behind and settled here, obtaining Bosnian citizenship.
Those who remained are now under tighter monitoring by the Bosnian police.
Last week, the interior minister of the Muslim-Croat federation, Muhamed Besic, said that "trustworthy intelligence sources" suggested about 70 associates of Osama bin Laden, the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, could be expected to flee Afghanistan for refuge within Bosnia.