Main suspect, two others held in Marrakesh attack



RABAT- Morocco arrested the main suspect and two other Moroccans for their role in a bomb attack in the city of Marrakesh that killed 16 people, many of them foreigners, last month, an interior ministry officials told AFP.
The main suspect "is linked to Al-Qaeda and made the bomb" that ripped through a cafe in Djemaa El-Fna Square, the tourist heart of Marrakesh, the official said.



The three Moroccans were arrested at Safi, 350 kilometres (220 miles) south of Casablanca, a security official said, adding that they had a police record and were known for taking part in the recruitment of fighters for Iraq.
The April 28 attack also left 21 people injured.
The main suspect "made two explosive devices, which were triggered from a distance after he took them to Marrakesh", an interior ministry statement added.
It said the bomber "chose the Argana cafe because it is popular with Moroccan and foreign tourists, and which he entered making people believe he was a tourist".
The interior ministry said the main suspect was "a keen jihadist who has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda".
The three suspects will be heard by a judge "after the ongoing investigation is closed".
On Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said two suspects had been identified. Eight French nationals were among the dead.
Nearly a week after the bombing, Moroccan Islamists said Tuesday they felt reassured that authorities acted with restraint and did not carry out mass arrests as they did in the wake of 2003 attacks.
There was speculation that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was linked to the attack but so far no one has claimed responsibility.
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 that killed 45 people, including the 12 suicide bombers, when authorities arrested hundreds of Islamists 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.
Questioned on why no one has so far claimed responsibility for the bombing, government spokesman Khalid Naciri has said: "If Al-Qaeda has not claimed it, that does not mean it is not responsible."
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Friday, May 6th 2011
AFP
           


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