Bosnian police detained 16 people on Wednesday on charges of financing terrorist activities, recruiting and fighting for radical groups in Syria and Iraq, authorities said.
The arrests were made in 17 raids by a combined 200 police 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 citizens who fight or recruit fighters for conflicts abroad.
The move was aimed at discouraging young Bosnians, some of whom particularly from rural areas have in recent years adhered to the puritanical Sunni Muslim Wahhabi sect, from going to fight in Syria.
“The suspects are connected to financing, organising 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 organisations,” SIPA spokeswoman Kristina Jozic told a news conference.
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 of which involved a young Bosnian who died in a suicide attack in Iraq in early August, according to local media.
Most Bosnian Muslims, known as Bosniaks, practice a moderate form of Islam.
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