Morocco arrests 35 tied to Al Qaida attacks in Casablanca

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

CAIRO Morocco has reported a major victory against Islamic insurgents connected to the Al Qaida suicide attacks in May 2003.

Moroccan authorities said security forces captured 35 insurgents linked to Al Qaida in a series of raids of suspected insurgency strongholds in the city of Mekans, 138 kilometers east of Rabat. Authorities said a police officer and an insurgent were killed in a shootout during one of the raids over the weekend.

The detainees were said to have included leading fugitives sought by Morocco in wake of the suicide strikes in Casablanca last year. Security forces also discovered a huge cache of explosives and weapons as well as equipment to forge official documents.

Security sources told the official Moroccan news agency that the insurgents were part of Al Qaida's nerve center that helped plan the suicide attacks in Casablanca, Middle East Newsline reported. Al Qaida in cooperation with the Salfiya Jihadiya group sent a dozen suicide bombers against Western and Jewish targets in attacks that killed 44 people.

One of those captured in the raid was Muhsan Buarfa, accused of killing two Moroccan security agents. The sources said the raids which took place overnight Monday were part of a counter-insurgency effort against Islamic insurgency groups in wake of the May 2003 attacks.

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