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Moroccan Suicide Bombers May Have Ties to Al-Qaida - 2003-05-18

Moroccan authorities are continuing to round up suspects in Friday's suicide bombings in Casablanca.

Moroccan authorities have arrested more than 30 suspects in Friday night's wave of terrorist attacks that killed 41 people in Casablanca.

Their investigation is concentrating on one of the suicide bombers who survived. Authorities say he may be part of a known extremist group, Salafia Jihadia, which is believed to have ties with al-Qaida.

No one has claimed responsibility for the five attacks that were carried out almost simultaneously Friday in Casablanca.

Some of the 14 bombers in five groups detonated belt explosives, but most blew themselves up in car bombs driven close to their targets, including a Jewish community center, a luxury hotel and a Spanish club.

At least seven Europeans, two Spaniards, two Italians and three Frenchmen were among those killed. The dead included 13 of the attackers.

Morocco's interior ministry said police are making fast progress identifying the attackers.

A spokesman for Morocco's King Mohammed, Hassan Aourid, said the bombings were the work of "blind" international terrorism. He said Morocco would punish terrorist acts "without mercy."

The Moroccan interior minister, Mustapha Sahel, said there are similarities between Friday's bombings in Casablanca and last Monday's triple suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia that left 34 dead. Saudi officials have blamed al-Qaida for those bombings.

Many suspected members of extremist Islamist groups have been arrested in Morocco in recent months. U.S. officials have praised Morocco's cooperation in exchanging intelligence information on suspected terrorists and for actively pursuing individuals believed associated with the al-Qaida terror network.