PODGORICA: Montenegro said it had arrested 20 Serbs for planning to carry out attacks after voting wraps up in the Balkan nation’s tense parliamentary elections on Sunday.

The attacks would have targeted the state and possibly “senior state officials”, Montenegro police chief Slavko Stojanovic said in a statement. The 20 were arrested on Saturday night and a 21st individual is being sought, he said.

“They are suspected of coming to Montenegro with the intention of carrying out attacks on institutions, the police and the representatives of the organs of state,” the statement said. “In addition, we do not rule out (that they were planning) attacks against senior state officials.”

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, quoted by the Serbian news agency Tanjug, said he had no information about the arrests.

“I find it curious that this is happening today, and that’s all I’ll say,” Vucic said. “As for the rest, it would be better for me to bite my tongue.”

Campaigning in the small ex-Yugoslav state has been gripped by tension over veteran premier Milo Djukanovic’s plans to forge closer ties with the West.

He is pursuing membership of both NATO and the European Union - an objective that displeases Russia, its long-time ally.

One of the six founding republics of the former Yugoslavia, Montenegro was joined in a loose union with Serbia after the Yugoslav breakup.

The union ended in 2006, when the country voted for independence.

Djukanovic, 54, is the only Balkan leader to have held on to power since the collapse of Yugoslavia began in the early 1990s, serving several times as prime minister and once as president.

But analysts say he is now under pressure, with critics accusing his government of cronyism, corruption and links to organised crime.

The latest private survey seen by AFP forecasts his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) leading with less than 40 percent of the vote, a result that would mean coalition partners were needed to form a government.

“Even if the DPS could reach with their political allies some tiny majority, that would be unstable,” said Zlatko Vujovic, director of the Centre for Monitoring and Research, which is observing the election.

Just over half a million citizens are eligible to vote at polling stations which were due to close at 8pm (1800 GMT).