Albania police using extreme security for Israeli qualifier

TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albanian police say they have taken extreme steps to secure the World Cup qualifier between Albania and Israel on Saturday.

The venue was changed for ''security reasons'' from the northern city of Shkoder, near the border with Montenegro, to Elbasan, nearer to Tirana.

The Elbasan Arena was 55 kilometers (30 miles) south of Tirana.

The decision followed media reports that an alleged terror group of 15 persons, arrested in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia, planned an attack during the match.

A statement on Friday said 2,000 police, many more than in other matches, would be involved around the match from Friday.

Fans will be thoroughly checked at the stadium, and drivers were advised to use another route between the capital and Elbasan because traffic will be limited.

Concerned that the news on increased police measures would keep the fans away, Albania Football Association spokesman Tritan Kokona called on fans to buy tickets and not to fear anything.

''There is nothing to worry about. Everything is under the required parameters,'' he said.

Boaz Rodkin, the Israeli ambassador, welcomed the police steps, saying Israel's players feel safe.

''This is what we do in other football matches and other sports, too, due to the events in the past. That is not an unusual situation,'' Rodkin told private Albanian television station Top Channel.

''Sincerely I don't think that is a bad advertisement for Albania, on the contrary.''

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