Middle East

Morocco arrests 'terror' cell

RABAT: Morocco said on Monday it has arrested eight people suspected of plotting attacks against strategic sites, less than a week after the kingdom announced it had dismantled a "terrorist" cell.

The latest arrests targeted a group called Ansar al-Sharia in the Islamic Maghreb, dismantling the cell whose eight members planned to "commit acts of sabotage against strategic sites," said an interior ministry statement.

The cell's targets included "sensitive buildings, security headquarters and tourist sites in several Moroccan cities," it added.

The suspects "were developing contacts with terrorist groups linked to Al-Qaeda," whose North African franchise is active in the Sahel region and in northern Mali, the statement said.

A security official reached by AFP said one of the cell members "was preparing a trip to the Sahel to get financial support from Islamist groups in that region."

They added the arrests were made in Rabat and several other cities. One of the suspects had previously been detained under the kingdom's anti-terror laws.

The tourist sites that were to be targeted were in Ouarzazate and Errachidia.

The interior ministry had announced the dismantling of a "terrorist cell" several days before, comprising nine members plotting to set up a training camp in the mountainous Rif region in the north, in order to attack "the authorities".

More than 2,000 Islamists were arrested and sentenced after the May 16 2003 bombings in Casablanca. Five suicide attacks, including one inside a restaurant, killed 45 people including the 12 attackers, and wounded many more.





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