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Hundreds of looted icons recovered

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By The Associated Press
Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:21 p.m.

TIRANA, Albania — Albanian police have seized more than 1,000 religious and secular pieces of art dating from the 15th to the mid-20th centuries that were stolen from churches and cultural centers in Albania and neighboring Macedonia.

Prime Minister Edi Rama, who began his career as an artist, inspected the works and praised police for recovering them.

The thefts involved 1,077 icons, frescoes and other pieces, and two men suspected of planning to sell them abroad were arrested, a police statement said on Wednesday.

After a four-month investigation, the works 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.

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