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Albania seizes more than 1,000 stolen artworks

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October 9, 2013 10:46 AM EST | AP


TIRANA, Albania — TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian police have seized more than 1,000 stolen religious and secular pieces of art dating from the 15th to the mid-20th century, and arrested two men suspected of planning to sell them abroad.

The 1,077 icons, frescoes and other pieces were removed from churches and cultural centers in southeast Albania and neighboring Macedonia, a police statement said Wednesday.

They were found in two houses in the capital, Tirana, where the arrests took place late Tuesday. Officials did not provide an estimate of the items' value.

Culture Ministry spokeswoman Milena Selimi said the looted art was probably headed for sale in other Balkan countries or in Western Europe.

Prime Minister Edi Rama praised police for the arrests and urged Albanians to help stop the plundering of the country's cultural heritage.