/ 9 May 2006

Report: Europe puts Morocco on terror alert

European intelligence services have warned Morocco that terrorists are planning attacks on political, business and tourist targets in the North African country, the Al Ahdath Al Maghribia newspaper said on Tuesday.

”Moroccan security authorities received a message from their European counterparts warning of [potential] attacks targeting administrative, financial and tourist spots, as well as certain embassies and foreign interests in Morocco,” the newspaper said, quoting ”well-informed sources”.

It said the groups, which were unnamed in the report, were plotting bomb attacks and assassinations.

A series of simultaneous bomb attacks in Morocco’s commercial capital Casablanca in May 2003 left 45 people dead. More than 3 000 suspected extremists have been arrested in the country since then in a campaign against Islamic militants.

Members of a local extremist group, the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM), are suspected of being behind the Casablanca attacks and the March 2004 train bombings in Madrid, in which 191 people died.

Al Ahdath Al Maghribia said the tip-off from European investigators was based in part on information culled in interrogations of North African detainees held by German authorities in Frankfurt.

A second newspaper considered close to the Rabat government, Assahra Al Maghribia, said nine suspected terrorists had been arrested last week in Meknes, 120km east of Rabat.

It said another Islamist ”from a country in the Gulf” had been detained on Saturday in Casablanca and that investigators were trying to determine the extent of his ties to extremist groups operating in Morocco. — Sapa-AFP