Israeli, husband among 15 dead in Morroco blast

Pregnant Israeli, Morrocan-born Jewish husband reportedly visited family for Passover with infant; Clinton "strongly" condemns terror attack.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
April 29, 2011 08:28
3 minute read.
Scene of Moroccan cafe bombing

Scene of Moroccan cafe bombing 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal)

 
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The Israeli Consul General in Shanghai confirmed Thursday overnight that a Jewish couple living in the Chinese city were among the 15 people killed in Thursday's suicide bombing at a cafe in Marrakesh, Morroco.

Three Morrocan's were among the victims, as well as other foreigners including six French, one British and one Dutch citizen. Around twenty people were injured.

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Consul Jackie Eldan told Israel Radio that the couple, a 30-year-old pregnant Israeli woman and her Moroccan-born husband, traveled to Marrakesh with their two-year-old son to visit the husband's family for Passover. The couple was identified as
Michal and Massoud Weizman.

They left the baby with the grandmother while they went for a visit in the city. They were in the cafe when the suicide bomber detonated the explosives.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned "in the strongest terms" the terrorist attack.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to the victims of this cowardly attack and stand with the people of Morocco at this difficult time," Clinton said. "Acts of terrorism must not be tolerated wherever and whenever they occur."

Earlier Thursday, Moroccan state television said the attack on the bustling tourist destination of Marrakesh, bore the hallmark of Islamist terrorists.

The blast ripped through a cafe overlooking Marrakesh's Jamaa el-Fnaa square, a spot that is often packed with foreign tourists. A Reuters photographer said he saw rescuers pulling dismembered bodies from the wreckage.



"Analysis of the early evidence collected at the site of the blast that occurred on Thursday at a cafe in Marrakesh confirms the theory of an attack," the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official MAP news agency.

Two residents in Marrakesh who were near the square told Reuters the explosion was carried out by a suicide bomber, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

If confirmed as the work of Islamist terrorists, the attack would be the first such major attack in Morocco since 2003, when suicide bombings in the commercial capital, Casablanca, killed more than 45 people.

Morocco's ruler, King Mohammed, has promised to reform the constitution to placate protesters who have been inspired by uprisings in other part of the Arab world. But a fresh round of protests is planned for this Sunday.

"I heard a massive blast. The first and second floors of the building were destroyed," said one local woman, who did not want to be identified. "Some witnesses said they have seen a man carrying a bag entering the cafe before the blast occurred."

The cafe is in the Marrakesh medina, or old city, which is designated by the United Nation's cultural arm as a World Heritage Site. It is usually packed with stalls, story-tellers and snake-charmers seeking to attract tourists.

"You can't find a more emblematic target than Jamaa el-Fnaa square," said a Frenchman who owns a restaurant in the city.

"With this attack and amid the worrying unrest in the region, tourism will hit the doldrums for some time," said the businessman, who did not want his name published.

The roof over the cafe's upstairs terrace was ripped off by the force of the explosion and pieces of plaster and electrical wires hung from the ceiling.

The body of one of the victims lay amid the rubble, covered by a blanket, with one hand sticking out. Blood stained the floor of the cafe red in several places.

"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."

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