October 25, 2019 / 11:54 AM / 21 days ago

Morocco arrests six suspected jihadists: police spokesman

RABAT (Reuters) - Moroccan security services have broken up a suspected Islamic State cell, arresting six members near Casablanca and in the northern towns of Chefchaouen and Ouazzane, a police spokesman said on Friday.

Compared with other North African countries, Morocco has been largely insulated from militant attacks. Its most recent took place in December 2018, when militants loyal to Islamic State killed two Scandinavian tourists.

Police seized firearms including guns, automatic pistols and hunting rifles in Tamaris, south of Casablanca as well as ammunition and bladed arms, the spokesman, Boubker Sabik, told Reuters.

They also discovered dangerous chemical material and liquids that could be used to make explosives, along with Islamic State flags and a document and video recording showing the cell pledge allegiance to the international jihadist group.

The cell also possessed navigation and swimming material including an inflatable boat, the spokesman added.

Official Moroccan figures from late 2018 showed that 1,669 Moroccans had traveled to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic State. However, the only other major attack in the country this decade was the 2011 bombing of a Marrakesh restaurant, killing 17.

Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi, editing by Angus McDowall and Giles Elgood

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