SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnian police detained 16 people on Wednesday on charges of financing terrorist activities, recruiting and fighting on the side of radical groups in Syria and Iraq, authorities said.
The arrests were made in 17 raids the police conducted across the Balkan country, the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) said in a statement.
It was the first such security sweep since April when Bosnia introduced jail terms of up to 10 years for its citizens who fight or recruit fighters for conflicts abroad.
The move was aimed at discouraging young Bosnians from going to fight in Syria. Many of those are seen as a possible security threat upon their return home.
"The suspects are connected to financing, organizing and recruiting Bosnian citizens to depart for Syria and Iraq, and taking part in armed conflicts in Syria and Iraq, fighting on the side of radical terrorist groups and organizations," the police statement said.
Experts estimate that several hundred people have left Bosnia, where Muslims make up 45 percent of the population, heading for Syria. Some of them reportedly crossed into Iraq this year to fight for the Islamic State group.
Several dozen have been reported killed, the latest case that of a young Bosnian who died in a suicide attack in Iraq in early August, according to local media.
Many young Muslims from the Balkans, including Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia, have become radicalized to fight for global Islamic causes in the recent years.
(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Dominic Evans)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun