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Morocco Probes Al-Qaida Links to Deadly Bombing

Investigators work at the scene of an explosion which rocked the Argana cafe in Marrakesh's Jamaa el-Fnaa square, April 28, 2011

A Moroccan government official says authorities are investigating a possible al-Qaida link to a bombing Thursday in Marrakech that left 16 people dead.

Communications Minister Khalid Naciri said Friday that investigators are pursuing all possible leads, including al-Qaida which has an active offshoot in the region.

The blast tore the facade off a two-story cafe in Jemaa el-Fna square in the heart of Marrakech. Authorities say at least 10 foreigners were among the dead.

Some witnesses said the attack appeared to be a suicide bombing.

But on Friday, Morocco's interior minister said the bomb was detonated remotely, and was composed of chemical materials and explosives.

Morocco was rocked by a series of Islamist extremist attacks in 2003 that left 45 people dead, including 12 suicide bombers.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday described the bombing as a cowardly attack and offered U.S. assistance.

U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon said he was "appalled" by the bombing and said "no political objective justifies or is served by such heinous acts."

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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