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article imageKosovo orders house arrest for women repatriated from Syria

By AFP     Apr 24, 2019 in World

Over 20 women repatriated from Syria to Kosovo have been put under house arrest for one month while they are investigated for links to the Islamic State group, a statement said on Thursday.

The 26 women placed under house arrest are among a group of around 30 flown back to Pristina on Saturday alongside 74 children and four men.

Many of the women are the wives or widows of jihadist recruits.

A court ordered them to be placed under house arrest "on the basis of the reliable suspicion that they organised or participated in foreign conflicts", according to a press statement by the Basic Court in Pristina after a hearing for 16 of the women on Wednesday.

A similar ruling was made in the cases of ten other women on Tuesday.

After landing in Pristina, the four men were charged with participating in a foreign conflict while the women and children were taken to a migrant centre, where they received medical checks.

Health services director Naser Ramadani said "the women and children have suffered serious trauma".

Kosovo, whose population of 1.8 million is 90 percent Muslim, though largely moderate, was one of Europe's highest per-capita contributors of foreign jihadi fighters to Iraq and Syria.

More than 300 Kosovar citizens went their during the peak of the militant Islamist group’s activity starting in 2014.

In recent months countries around the world have been grappling with how to repatriate citizens who fought with the Islamic State group, as well as children and wives of militants who want to return.

Under a 2015 law in Kosovo, those who "participated in foreign police or military formations" can be jailed for up to 15 years.

Of the Kosovar fighters in Syria and Iraq, around 70 were killed and an estimated 120 have come home, with most tried and jailed upon return.

Police believe that around 30 Kosovan fighters and some 50 women and children are still in Syria.

The exact overall number of children of jihadist fighters still in Syria is unknown, but the Save the Children NGO believes that some 3,500 children from 30 countries are in camps there.

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