Bosnian Serb police release 23 Bosnian Muslims arrested in raids

Bosnian Serb police accuse remaining eight Bosnian Muslims held in custody of terrorism links

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Bosnian Serb police released 23 of the 31 Bosnian Muslims who were detained earlier this week over alleged links with terrorist groups.

On Wednesday, Bosnian Serb police searched the houses of a number of Bosnian Muslims in a large scale operation after a gunman raided a police station in northeast Bosnia, killing a policeman and wounding two others while yelling “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great).

Following investigations, police concluded that the shooter had links with militant groups such as ISIS. Those arrested were suspected of recruiting for the militant group.

Interior Minister of Republika Srpska, Dragan Lukac said, “All those who have the ambition to realise their extremist and radical plans, regardless of their ethnic origin, should know that the police will do its best to stop them."

In a statement, the state prosecutor’s office said, "For some of the suspects there is strong evidence that they fought and joined the terrorist group in Syria known as ISIS. Others have recruited people to send to the war in Syria and have collected money for terrorist organisations."

Authorities in Republika Srpska, the Serb half of Bosnia and Herzegovina, passed a new law allowing them to jail people who fight in wars abroad up to 15 years.

However, Bosnian Muslim authorities have been critical of the arrests, with Bosnian President Bakir Izetbegovic accusing the Serb authorities of intimidating Muslims returning to their homes in Republika Srpska.

"We will not allow harassment of returnees under the guise of a fight against terrorism," Izetbegovic said.

Bosnian Muslim mayor Camil Durakovic, meanwhile, also said the Serb authorities were using terrorism as an excuse to raid the homes of Muslims.  

"Terrorism is a serious global problem and we must all fight against it, but you cannot use it as an excuse to send masked, armed men to search houses of Bosnian Muslims and arrest people without any evidence," Durakovic said.

Bosnian Muslims, who call themselves Bosniaks, were subject to systematic killings between 1992 and 1995 during the Bosnian civil war, in which Serbs ethnically cleansed more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the town of Srebrenica.

The units in the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) under the command of General Ratko Mladic were responsible for the mass killings, as well as other abuses including starvation and rape.

As part of the Dayton agreement, which brought an end to the war in 1994, Bosnia has three main ethnic groups (Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats), who alternate the presidency between them in eight-month terms.

After the war, Bosnia was split into two semiautonomous parts, the Serb-run Republika Srpska and a federation shared by Bosniaks and Croats. Each has its own president, government and police.

TRTWorld and agencies