Morocco: Would-be bomber blows himself up

Terrorist was about to detonate his explosives Tuesday in Morocco's commercial capital, Casablanca.

bomb belt 88 doz (photo credit: IDF)
bomb belt 88 doz
(photo credit: IDF)
A suspected terrorist blew himself up and another was shot and killed by police as he was about to detonate his explosives Tuesday in Morocco's commercial capital, Casablanca, Moroccan authorities said. The two men had been sought by police for their suspected role in the March 11 bombing of a Casablanca Internet cafe. That blast killed the suspected bomber and injured four others. Police believe that case was linked to a larger plot to attack Casablanca's port, police stations, and tourist sites in Morocco, which is struggling to contain Islamic extremism. The two suspects killed Tuesday were both carrying explosives, said an Interior Ministry official and the official MAP news agency. They said one suspect blew himself up as police were about to arrest him. The other man, identified by police as Mohamed Mentala, was on the verge of detonating his explosives when police shot him, said the official and MAP. Mentala died of his injuries shortly afterward. Mentala was carrying 4 kilos of explosives, said the Interior Ministry official. Police were still trying to identify the man who blew himself up. Police were also searching for a third suspect. Police believe that one of those two was a long-wanted suspected terrorist, Mohamed Rachidi. Mentala and Rachidi have both been sought by police for involvement in May 2003 suicide bombings in Casablanca that killed 45 people and sparked an ongoing crackdown on Islamic terrorism, said the Interior Ministry official. He asked not to be named, citing ministry policy. The bomber in the March 11 blast, Abdelfettah Raydi, detonated his charge when the cybercafe's owner caught him surfing jihadist Web sites. Moroccan authorities say the blast led them to a larger plot that involved at least 30 people. The group had amassed dozens of kilograms of homemade explosives in a Casablanca apartment. Police have so far arrested 31 suspects who have been questioned by judges in preliminary court hearings. Many suspects, including Raydi, were among some two thousand arrested in the wake of the 2003 bombings who were later released from prison by royal pardon. Moroccan authorities have said they do not believe Raydi's group had links to international terrorist networks.