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Macedonian police arrest 17 for suspected membership of antiquities looting gang

Macedonian police say they have carried out raids across the country and arrested 17 people, including two state museum employees, for alleged involvement in an antiquities looting gang.

A police statement Wednesday said officers confiscated valuable artifacts dating to as early as the 4th century B.C., including pottery, a clay female figurine and 121 coins — one with the portrait of Alexander the Great.

Fourteen church icons were also seized, although police did not provide dates for them.

The arrests and seizures took place late Tuesday after raids on 23 homes and business premises in the capital Skopje and four other cities. The suspects include a police officer.

Authorities are also seeking two Serbian nationals suspected of involvement in the ring that allegedly sought to sell the antiquities abroad.

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