7 new suspects brought before Morocco judge in slain hikers case

Flowers, candles and photos in memory of Louisa and Maren are left at the Town Hall Square in Copenhagen, on December 28, 2018. (Norway OUT /AFP)
Updated 03 January 2019
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7 new suspects brought before Morocco judge in slain hikers case

  • Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland were found dead at an isolated hiking spot south of Marrakesh on December 17
  • The two women were beheaded, authorities have said.

RABAT: A Morocco prosecutor on Thursday brought seven new suspects including a Spanish-Swiss man before a Rabat anti-terror judge in connection with the murder of two Scandinavian women in the Atlas Mountains.
The prosecution asked that the suspects be investigated for “forming a gang to prepare and carry out terrorist acts, premeditated assistance to perpetrators of terrorist acts and training people to join a terrorist organization,” Rabat’s attorney general said.
The prosecutor called on the judge to place the suspects in pre-trial detention.
Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland were found dead at an isolated hiking spot south of Marrakesh on December 17.
The two women were beheaded, authorities have said.
Fifteen people, including the four main suspects, were brought before the judge on Sunday over their alleged links to the double homicide, labelled a “terrorist” act by Rabat.
The Spanish-Swiss man in Thursday’s group had been living in Morocco and was detained in Marrakesh over alleged links to some of the suspects.
He subscribed to “extremist ideology,” according to Morocco’s central office for judicial investigations.
The four main suspects were also arrested in Marrakesh and belonged to a cell inspired by Daesh ideology, Morocco’s counter-terror chief Abdelhak Khiam told AFP.
None of the four had contact with Daesh members in Syria or Iraq, he said.
The head of the suspected cell is 25-year-old street vendor Abdessamad Ejjoud, according to investigators.
He was identified in a video filmed a week before the double-murder, in which the four main suspects pledged allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, according to authorities.
The killings have shaken Norway, Denmark and Morocco. Another video circulated on social networks allegedly showed the murder of one of the tourists.
Morocco, which relies heavily on tourism income, suffered an extremist attack in 2011, when a bomb blast at a cafe in Marrakesh’s famed Jamaa El Fna Square killed 17 people, mostly European tourists.
An attack in the North African state’s financial capital Casablanca killed 33 people in 2003.


Explosion targets a tourist bus, injures at least 17 near Cairo’s Great Pyramids: Security sources

Updated 29 min 18 sec ago
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Explosion targets a tourist bus, injures at least 17 near Cairo’s Great Pyramids: Security sources

  • There were no reports of deaths
  • One security source said they included South African nationals

CAIRO: An explosion targeting a tourist bus injured at least 17 people near a new museum being built close to the Giza pyramids in Egypt on Sunday, two security sources said.

The sources said that most of the injuries were foreign tourists, with some social media users posting pictures of a damaged bus and what looked like injured tourists.

One security source said they included South African nationals.

There were no reports of deaths. A witness, Mohamed El-Mandouh, told Reuters he heard a "very loud explosion" while sitting in traffic near the site of the blast.

Pictures posted on social media showed a bus with some of its windows blown out or shattered, and debris in the road next to a low wall with a hole in it.

It is the second to target foreign tourists near the famed pyramids in less than six months. In December, three Vietnamese tourists and an Egyptian guide were killed and at least 10 others injured when a roadside bomb hit their tour bus less than 4 kilometres from the Giza pyramids. 

Egypt has battled militants for years in the Sinai Peninsula in an ongoing insurgency that has occasionally spilled over to the mainland, which often targets minority Christians or tourists.

The attack comes as Egypt's vital tourism industry is showing signs of recovery after years in the doldrums because of the political turmoil and violence that followed a 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Hosni Mubarak.

(With Agencies)