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An gunman, identified as Mevlid Jasarevic, stands with an automatic weapon in the centre of the street in front of the US embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. AP Photo/Amel Emri

17 arrested over terrorist attack in Sarajevo

A gunman, thought to be part of a conservative Islamic sect, opened fire outside the US embassy in the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina yesterday.

SEVENTEEN PEOPLE HAVE been arrested following a terrorist attack on the US embassy in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, yesterday.

A man armed with hand grenades and an automatic weapon opened fire outside the embassy on Friday in what authorities have labelled a terrorist attack. A policeman and the gunman were wounded during the incident, however the embassy has reported none of its employees hurt.

Interior Minister Ivica Dacic told the Tanjug news agency on Saturday morning: “This morning at 5:00 am (0300 GMT) a (police) operation was launched against the extremist Islamist Wahhabi movement in the territory of Novi Pazar, Sjenica and Tutin. Seventeen people were arrested, one of them from Bosnia.”

Video via on YouTube

The gunman has been identified by the authorities as 23-year-old Serb national, Mevlid Jasarevic (pictured). Jasarevic wore a beard and was dressed in an outfit with short pants that reveal his ankles — typical for followers of the conservative Wahhabi branch of Islam.

The Wahhabis are an extremely conservative branch which is rooted in Saudi Arabia and linked to religious militants in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Western intelligence reports have alleged that the tense, impoverished area of Sandzak, along with Muslim-dominated regions in Bosnia, are rich ground for recruiting so-called “white al-Qaeda” — Muslims with Western features who could easily blend into European or US cities and carry out attacks.

The Islamic extremists joined Bosnia’s 1992-95 war for independence. They were largely tolerated by the US and the West because of their opposition to late Serbia’s strongman Slobodan Milosevic’s quest to create “Greater Serbia” out of the former Yugoslav republics.

‘An attack on Bosnia and Herzegovina’

Zeljko Komsic, chairman of Bosnia’s presidency, said told AP that authorities have not yet determined whether the attack “was the act of an individual, or something organised.”

“But whatever it was, it is not just an attack on the US embassy or the US, it is also an attack on Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said.

Bosnian Muslims are extremely protective of their relations with the US because it was the driving force behind NATO military intervention and brokered a peace agreement that ended Bosnia’s war.

The head of Bosnia’s Islamic Community, Mustafa Ceric, condemned the attack late Friday, and said “the attack on the US embassy is an attack on us.”

“We will confront every individual or group that jeopardizes the peace and security in this city and this country,” he said in a statement.

Additional reporting by the AP

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