RABAT - Morocco said on Saturday it had broken up a militant cell that was training youths to send them to fight in Mali, which has become the focus of international concern over the spread of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The interior ministry said in a statement on state news agency MAP it broke up a cell operating in the cities of Nador, Casablanca, Guercif, Laayoune and Kalaat Sraghna.

Around 20 people had been sent to fight with AQIM and al-Qaida ally the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, and others had been sent to Libya, it said.

Morocco, a Western ally, often says it has broken militant cells accused of plotting inside and outside the country.

European leaders are growing increasingly anxious that Mali could turn into a platform for militant attacks, including in Europe.

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