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27 Islamists held in Morocco

Moroccan police have arrested 27 Islamists and one would-be bomber  in connection with the  attacks in Casablanca, a senior government official said.

Last Modified: 17 May 2003 07:15 GMT

Moroccan police have arrested 27 Islamists and one would-be bomber  in connection with the  attacks in Casablanca, a senior government official said.

 

Wounded policeman:
Security breach

The number of dead has gone up to 46 with 12 in a critical condition, according to Aljazeera correspondent Iqbal Ilhami. 

 

In all, 10 bombers were involved in the attacks, officials told Aljazeera.

 

One would-be bomber was arrested at Farah Hotel.  He panicked on seeing his two colleagues exploding themselves and threw away his bag containing explosives.

 

The would-be bomber is expected to provide valuable help to the Moroccan authorities. He is from the neighbouring district of Casablanca which houses the Jihadi-Salafis, an alleged cell of the al Qaeda network in Morocco.

 

Meanwhile, Fath Allah Arsanal, a  spokesman for the Islamic Al Adl Wal Ihssan group told Aljazeera that he did not think the Islamic groups in Morocco were linked to the attacks.  All the groups have explicitly rejected the use of violence, he said.

 

International skill

 

The Islamic groups are well integrated into society and are transparent in their dealings, the spokesman said.  Political activists, the government and the ordinary people are well aware of this, he added.

 

According to him, foreign groups were behind the attacks. This was clear in the logistics and intelligence skills that were used in the attacks. He said some Moroccans may have helped in carrying out the attacks.


On whether the Islamic groups would co-operate with investigators, the spokesman said the government had not asked them for assistance.

 

"It will not ask because officials know we have nothing to do with the attacks. The officials are also aware that we would not know the people involved," he said. 

 

Casablanca's Hotel Safir:
Taken unawares

The attacks came despite Morocco closely monitoring security arrangements in the country following a worldwide alert.  The government had even drafted a law on combatting what it called “terrorism”. 

 

Nabil bin Abdullah, the Moroccan Information Minister told Aljazeera that the Moroccan government and the police were carefully following the movements of people linked to the “international terrorism network”. In the past few months, many were arrested in Morocco, he said. 

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