Bosnia, Serbia Target Associates of Gunman after US Embassy Shooting

Posted October 29th, 2011 at 3:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Bosnian and Serbian police are working to track down associates of the gunman who opened fired on the U.S. embassy in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo.

Serbian police Saturday carried out raids in three towns in southwestern Serbia, all with large Muslim communities, arresting 17 people. Officials said they also confiscated mobile phones, computers and other materials from 18 homes.

Serbian interior ministry officials said the raids targeted supporters of the Wahhabi movement, a strict, conservative branch of Islam that is dominant in Saudi Arabia.

Also Saturday, the Associated Press reported that special police units raided the isolated northern Bosnian village of Gornja Maoca. AP video shows officers wearing black masks and camouflage surrounding several homes.

A separate video obtained by the Associated Press appears to have captured some of Friday's shooting in Sarajevo. It shows a gunman roaming around a deserted intersection and firing shots at the U.S. embassy.

Police have identified the gunman as 23-year-old Mevlid Jasarevic. Authorities say he is a follower of Wahhabism and comes from the region in Serbia where some of Saturday's raids took place.

Officials say Jasarevic wounded a police officer at the U.S. embassy before he was shot and arrested.

Meanwhile, police have stepped up security around the embassy.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said Friday that an outer wall of the building was damaged, but that no one inside was hurt. She praised local authorities for a swift response.

The reason for the shooting was not immediately clear.

Bosnia was the scene of a bloody ethnic conflict in the early 1990s between its Croat, Muslim and Serb communities.

During the conflict, many radical Islamists from Muslim countries came as volunteers to support Bosnian Muslims and brought Wahhabism to the Balkans.

Most Bosnian Muslims are protective of their relationship with the United States because it supported a NATO intervention to end the fighting and brokered the 1995 peace agreement.