Morocco says Marrakesh blast an act of terrorism

April 30, 2011 - 0:0

MARRAKESH (Reuters) – Morocco said on Friday a bomb that killed 15 people, many of them foreigners, in its busiest tourist destination was a terrorist act.

The blast ripped through a cafe overlooking Marrakesh's Jamaa el-Fnaa square, a spot often packed with foreign tourists, at lunch-time on Thursday.
Moroccan officials have not said who was responsible but western security analysts said it was likely to have been the work of militants in an attempt to damage the tourism industry, one of the country's biggest sources of revenue.
The Interior Ministry issued a statement saying seven of the 15 dead had so far been identified. They included two French citizens, two Canadians, a Dutch national and two Moroccans.
Israel's foreign ministry said two of the victims, a man and a woman, were Jews living in Shanghai and that the woman apparently had Israeli citizenship.
The attack, in which 23 people were also wounded, is the deadliest Morocco has seen since suicide bombers killed 33 people in coordinated strikes on the business hub Casablanca eight years ago.
“Preliminary investigation ... suggests that this was a terrorist act caused by an explosive device,” the official MAP news agency quoted Interior Minister Taieb Cherkaoui as saying.
Two Marrakesh residents who were near the square told Reuters the explosion was carried out by a suicide bomber, but there was no confirmation of this and no immediate claim of responsibility.
Quoting an unnamed security official familiar with the investigation, the independent news portal also said it was a suicide attack.
According to the portal's source, the bomber was freed from prison two months ago after having been sentenced to eight years in jail for rape.