Sun, May 01, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Morocco blast reminiscent of al-Qaeda, minister says

AFP, MARRAKESH, Morocco

A bomb in Marrakesh that killed 16 people was set off by a remote-control device and bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda, a Moroccan minister said.

“The way in which this act was carried out reminds us of the style normally used by the al-Qaeda organization,” Moroccan Interior Minister Taeb Cherkaoui told reporters on Friday.

He also said 13 of those killed had been identified: They were seven French nationals, two Canadians, two Moroccans, a Dutch national and a British national.

A medical source said that the 16 dead in Thursday’s explosion comprised eight French nationals, two Canadians, two Moroccans, a British man, a Dutchman, a Swiss man and a Portuguese man.

The British man was identified as Peter Moss, 59, from London, according to the Jewish Chronicle newspaper. The father of two was a writer, comedian and broadcaster, according to the London-based publication.

Another report in the Israeli media suggested that a 30-year-old pregnant Israeli woman and her husband, originally from Morocco, had been among the victims.

“Initial inquiries have shown an explosive product made up of nitrate and ammonium and two TATP [triacetone triperoxyde] explosives and also with nails — and the explosion was set off from a distance,”Cherkaoui told deputies earlier in Rabat, Morocco.

TATP is relatively easy to make and has surfaced in a number of recent investigations into attacks, including the July 2005 London bombings that killed 56 people and injured another 700.

Witnesses said the blast went off on the terrace of the Argana cafe, a popular tourist cafe in Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakesh’s main square, wrecking the facade and the first floor.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing since the attack took place. However, a video posted on the Internet three days before the bombing and attributed to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb included a threat to Morocco.

It showed five young men, armed, dressed in desert fatigues, their faces covered by the Arab headdress, or shemagh. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has been active in countries in the region, notably carrying out a series of kidnappings for ransom.

French intelligence and anti-terrorism experts on Friday traveled to Marrakesh to help in the probe, a Moroccan official said. International police agency Interpol said it had offered its help.

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