/ 11 November 2007

Morocco boosts security budget sharply

Draft Moroccan legislation has earmarked nearly 30% of the state’s 2008 budget for security, underscoring anti-terrorism concerns after spring suicide attacks, a government source said on Saturday.

The state is expected to pour about 45-billion dirhams ($5,8-billion) into security, a 29% boost from 2007.

The funding falls in line with an October pledge by Moroccan Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi to reinforce the country’s security operations.

In March and April, several suicide bombers attempted attacks in the Moroccan city of Casablanca. Six suicide bombers killed themselves and a seventh was shot dead by police. One police officer died in the blasts.

That was followed by a failed August attempt to bomb a tourist bus in Meknes, 200km east of Rabat.

Moroccan Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa said last week the country had taken seriously new calls by al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri for a holy war against North African leaders and their French, Spanish and United States allies. — Sapa-AFP