Bomb blast in Morocco tourist cafe kills 14 people

Morrocan authorities say initial signs point to "criminal act"; undisclosed number of foreigners killed in explosion; twenty injured in incident.

April 28, 2011 16:49
1 minute read.
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Moroccan Flag 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

MARRAKESH - An explosion killed 14 people, including foreigners, on Thursday in a busy cafe in the Moroccan tourist destination of Marrakesh, and authorities said the initial signs were that it was a criminal act. Evidence collected from the scene confirms it was a bomb attack, the Moroccan Interior Ministry said.

The blast ripped through the second story of a cafe overlooking Marrakesh's Jamaa el-Fnaa square, a spot that is usually bustling with foreign tourists and local vendors.

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Officials did not say if they suspected the involvement of Islamist militants. The militants' last big attack was a series of suicide bombings in Morocco's commercial capital, Casablanca, in 2003 in which more than 45 people were killed.

A Reuters photographer at the scene of the blast said he saw rescue workers pulling dismembered bodies from the wreckage of the Argana cafe.

A witness said only one of the dead was a Moroccan national, although this could not immediately be confirmed.

The Interior Ministry issued a statement saying the explosion killed 14 people, including an undisclosed number of foreigners, and injured another 20 people.

"Early evidence collected at the site (of the explosion) indicates that it was a criminal act," the ministry said in the statement carried by the official MAP news agency.

An official source had earlier told Reuters it appeared the blast was caused by gas canisters in the cafe catching fire.

"I heard a very loud blast in the square. It occurred inside Argana cafe. When I approached the scene, I saw shredded bodies being pulled out of the cafe," the Reuters photographer said.

"The first floor bore the brunt of the damage while the ground floor was almost intact. ... There are a lot of police who, with forensics, are sifting through the debris."

The official news agency said an investigation was under way to determine the cause of the explosion.

The Casablanca stock exchange was down 0.41 percent on news of the explosion in Marrakesh. Before reports emerged of the blast it has been trading up 0.13 percent.

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