Morocco PM condemns murders of Scandinavian tourists

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Three more suspects have been arrested in the killing of two Scandinavian tourists in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains.

The bodies of Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, of Denmark and Maren Ueland, 28, of Norway were found Monday in an isolated area near Imlil, often the starting point for treks to Mount Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak and a popular hiking destination.

Moroccan police arrested one man Wednesday and had been looking for the three who were arrested Thursday in Marrakech. Moroccan police and the Danish intelligence agency said the suspects were linked to the Islamic State terrorist group.

The killings were “politically motivated and thus an act of terror,” Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said, without identifying the potential motives. “There are still dark forces that want to fight our values” and “we must not give in.”

FILE PHOTO – Saad-Eddine El Othmani

Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani on Thursday strongly condemned the “despicable criminal act” of murdering two foreign tourists in central Morocco.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, El Othmani deemed the act as “a stab in the back of Morocco and Moroccans,” while extending his heartfelt condolences to the families of the two victims and their countries.

He said Morocco flatly condemns this appalling crime, which runs counter to the Moroccan values and customs, as well as the traditions of the region where the crime took place.

In Norway, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said that terrorism “is not the only lead that is being investigated in Morocco” but that the case still “emphasizes the importance of combating violent extremism.”

The bodies of the two women were found Monday by other tourists, who alerted the authorities. They were found with stab wounds to the neck.

Morocco is generally considered safe for tourists but has battled Islamic extremism for years.