Scene of Moroccan cafe bombing 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal)
An explosion that killed 15 people and wounded 20 in Marrakesh was triggered by
a remote control device, not a suicide bomber as previous reports suggested,
France’s interior minister said in an interview published on
RELATED:Bomb blast in Morocco tourist cafe kills 14 people
The blast ripped through a popular cafe overlooking Marrakesh’s
Jamaa el- Fnaa square at lunchtime on Thursday.
Western security analysts
attributed the attack to Islamists bent on ruining Morocco’s tourism
Two locals at the scene said they saw a suicide bomber. An Arab
news website said the attack was committed by a suicide bomber who had recently
got out of prison. But Moroccan officials have not said who was
A Jewish couple was among those killed, it emerged on
Messod and Michal Wizman, 32 and 30, respectively, who had been
visiting Messod’s side of the family in Morocco for Pessah, were both fatally
wounded in the attack, officials confirmed.
“The Jewish community in
Casablanca is very tight-knit,” Morocco’s Chabad representative was quoted as
saying on a Chabad website. “The whole community came to the Wizman home in
Casablanca this morning to cry with the parents over this terrible
The couple’s three-year-old son David Yosef was safely with his
grandparents at the time of the explosion.
The Wizmans had lived in
Shanghai for four years where they were active members of the Jewish
Michal Wizman, who was born in Israel, was reportedly
nine-months pregnant at the time of her death. A physiotherapist, she was one of
the attendants at the Shanghai Jewish Center’s ritual bath and was a member of
the local day school’s parents committee.
Meanwhile on Friday, a Moroccan
official said his country was determined to restore confidence in its vital
tourism industry in the wake of the attack.
“To go to a country as a
tourist and return dead is a terrible thing,” Finance Minister Salaheddine
Mezouar said while on a visit to Madrid. “We are going to work very hard so that
this does not have an impact on tourism in Marrakesh.”
Mezouar said the
government had no information on who might have been behind the
But the French interior minister said the attack was not carried
out by a suicide bomber.
“Contrary to what was being said earlier, there
was no suicide bomber,” Claude Gueant told weekly newspaper Le Journal du
Dimanche. “Somebody dropped a bag on the ground and the bomb was detonated
The bomb contained nails, ammonium nitrate and a high
explosive called TATP that was also used in a series of bombings on the Paris
underground system in 1995, he said.
Moroccan officials said on Friday
that they had identified several foreigners among the dead, including two French
citizens, two Canadians and a Dutch national.
Gueant said seven of the 15
dead were French nationals but that the attack was not aimed at
“I have spoken to my Moroccan counterpart who explained that
identification was difficult because some of the bodies were very badly
damaged,” he said.
“The toll for now is 15 dead, of which seven French
people, and about 10 injured, including two very badly wounded.”
officials said previously that 23 were wounded.
France has been on high
alert for a terrorist attack over the past year after Islamists took five French
people hostage in the Sahel region of Africa and al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden
singled out France in an audio recording.
Stringent anti-terrorism laws
have helped to prevent an attack on French soil since the September 11, 2001
attacks in the United States. But Islamists are increasingly targeting French
assets abroad, particularly in Africa.
Al-Qaida’s north African branch
released messages last week from four French hostages it kidnapped last
September in Niger, calling for France to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan –
repeating bin Laden’s demands.
Asked if France was targeted by the attack
on Thursday, Gueant said: “Nothing suggests it.”
But, he added, the
attackers were aware of Marrakesh’s popularity with French tourists.