Conflict & Justice

Morocco points to terrorism in Marrakech cafe blast that killed 15 (UPDATES) (VIDEO)


A Moroccan tour guide raises a sign as she accompanies British tourists on Jamaa El Fna square in Marrakech on Feb. 9, 2011.


Abdelhak Senna

Morocco says terrorists were behind a bombing that killed at least 15 people, mostly foreigners, in a square in Marrakech popular with foreign tourists.

Most of those killed in what the authorities now suspect was a suicide bombing Thursday at a cafe in downtown Marrakech were tourists, the state-run news agency Maghreb Arabe Presse said.

The blast tore the facade off the two-story Cafe Argana in Jemaa el-Fna square in the heart of Marrakech's old city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, VOA reported.

Government officials said it was too early to say what group might be behind the attack, but that about 10 of the people killed in the blast were foreigners.

"The casualties include people of various nationalities and reports seem to indicate that it was a criminal act," an official said, Agence France-Presse reports.

Earlier reports spoke of the accidental explosion of several gas canisters in the Argana cafe in the middle of the square.

The attack might also be linked to unrest across the Arab world as there had been protests as recently as Sunday in Morocco.

That's when thousands of Moroccans held a peaceful demonstration nationwide, calling for a radical overhaul of the North African country's governance before a new constitution is unveiled in June by King Mohammed VI.

The march was organized by the Facebook youth movement Fevrier 20, which has said its members will not accept the constitution as presently drafted because it was written by the king's people.

King Mohammed announced last month he would give up some of his wide-scale powers and make the judiciary independent.

Morocco is reportedly the leading tourism destination among the French tour operators, after many canceled their package tours to Tunisia and Egypt following  instability there.