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5/27/03 - OUTRAGE IN MOROCCO - 2003-05-28


Moroccan authorities have arrested three men and are seeking the arrest of four others suspected of involvement in a series of terrorist bombings in Morocco.

More than forty people, including at least twelve suicide bombers, were killed in the attacks. Dozens more were injured. The terrorists bombed a Jewish community center, a hotel, a Jewish cemetery, the Belgian consulate, and two restaurants in Casablanca. The victims were Moroccans, Spaniards, French, and Italians. One bomber survived and is in the custody of Moroccan police.

This is not the first time Morocco has confronted terrorism. In 2002, Moroccan authorities arrested ten suspected al-Qaida terrorists. Three were sentenced in February to ten years in prison for planning an attack on U.S. and British warships in the Strait of Gibraltar. Six others were sentenced to lesser terms and one was acquitted.

Whether the perpetrators of the Casablanca bombings are linked to al-Qaida or not, a government spokesman said, "Morocco is determined to punish terrorist acts without mercy."

Al-Qaida lost its main base when a U.S.-led coalition drove the extremist Taleban regime from power in Afghanistan. Since then, said President George W. Bush, the U.S. and its allies have pursued al-Qaida relentlessly:

"From Pakistan to the Philippines to the Horn of Africa, we are hunting down al-Qaida killers. So far, nearly half of al-Qaida's senior operatives have been captured or killed, and we will remain on the hunt until they are all brought to justice."

President Bush said that, as with the terrorist bombings in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. will work with Morocco to bring to justice those responsible for terrorism.

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