Three arrested over Morocco cafe blast
Police say the three suspects are Moroccan nationals.
Last Modified: 05 May 2011 23:09
The April 28 attack killed 16 people and left 21 others injured [AFP]

Police in Morocco have arrested three people in connection to a bomb blast in the city of Marrakesh on April 28 that left at least 16 people killed.

The three arrested on Thursday were all Moroccan nationals, state media quoted the country's interior ministry, as saying.

The ministry said the chief suspect was "well-versed in jihadi ideology and shows loyalty to al Qaeda", who had previously tried to fight alongside Islamist fighters in Chechnya and Iraq.

It said he dressed like a tourist to plant two remote-detonated devices, which then tore through a cafe overlooking Marrakesh's Jemaa el-Fna square, a spot that is often packed with tourists.

A security official told AFP news agency that the three suspects were arrested in the town of Safi, 350km south of Casablanca.

It was the first such attack in Morocco since 2003, when suicide bombings in Casablanca, killed at least 45 people.

Nearly a week after the bombing, Morocco's Islamists movements said they felt reassured that authorities acted with restraint and did not carry out mass arrests as they did in the wake of 2003 attacks.

'Indiscriminate crackdowns'

Nadia Yassine, a member of the Islamist Justice and Charity movement which is banned but tolerated by the authorities, said the restraint was in marked contrast to the reaction to the 2003 Casablanca attacks.
when authorities arrested hundreds in "indiscriminate crackdowns".

In an immediate reaction to the April 28 bombing, King Mohammed VI had called for respect of "the primacy of the rule of law" and for preserving "peace and security".

Morocco, a country of 32 million people whose economy relies heavily on  tourism, has largely been spared the anti-government revolts that have swept the Arab world since the end of last year.

But there have been three protests since February to demand reform, prompting the monarch to announce major political changes, including greater judicial independence.

The government has made it clear that the latest attack will not call the reform programme into doubt.

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