Three men from Kosovo have been arrested on suspicion of being part of a jihadist cell and plotting a terror attack in Venice, Italian police said Thursday.
A fourth person, a minor, was also detained in overnight raids, a police statement said.
Searches were conducted at 12 locations in the historic center of the city, which is a magnet for millions of visitors from around the world.
Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said all those detained in the early morning sweep Thursday had regular residency permits to live in Italy. The nationality of the minor is not known.
He confirmed that police searched 12 sites in Venice’s center, Mestre and nearby Treviso.
La Repubblica newspaper reported that the suspects were heard on wiretaps celebrating the attack outside Parliament in London last week, and had downloaded manuals on hand-to-hand fighting and the use of knives.
They were also recorded discussing the possibility of carrying out a similar attack in Venice, as well as their desire to join jihadists in Syria, according to La Repubblica.
Italian police have made several arrests in recent years of suspected extremists, including on allegations they were recruiting jihadists to fight in Syria and Iraq, were radicalizing others or were plotting attacks domestically.
On March 22, Khalid Masood ploughed his car into a crowd in a rampage that killed three people on London’s Westminster Bridge in the shadow of Big Ben.
He then stabbed a police officer at the entrance of the Houses of Parliament to death before being shot dead by armed police.