Thursday, April 28, 2011

Morocco Cafe Blast Kills 14

Morocco CafĂ© Blast Kills 14 in Widely Condemned ‘Terrorist’ Act

By Donna Abu-Nasr and Mariam Fam
Bloomberg News
Apr 28, 2011

A blast ripped through a restaurant in downtown Marrakech, Morocco, killing at least 14 people, including Europeans, in what U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called a “terrorist attack.”

“Acts of terrorism must not be tolerated wherever and whenever they occur,” Clinton said in a statement released in Washington last night. French President Nicolas Sarkozy also condemned the act of terrorism and United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon expressed his “firm rejection of the use of indiscriminate violence against innocent civilians.”

“Killing innocent people in this way could be nothing but an act of terror,” Karim Taj, chief of staff for the North African nation’s communications minister, said in an interview yesterday. “It’s too early to confirm that the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.”

The attack, which injured about 20 people according to Taj, took place at the Argana Restaurant in a square that is a tourist destination. Six French nationals were among the dead in the cafe, Al Arabiya television reported, without saying where it got the information.

“Everything was covered in blood. The scene is horrifying,” Tarek Bozid, a 33-year-old photographer and Marrakech resident who went to the scene, said in a telephone interview. “Tables were broken and glass was shattered.”

Morocco’s MADEX Free Float Index (MOSEMDX) fell as much as 3.5 percent and declined 1.6 percent, the most since April 1, to 9,694.51 at the 3:30 p.m. close of trading in Casablanca yesterday.

Getting Out

“Foreigners are getting out,” Amine Larhrib, head of the international desk at CDG Capital Bourse said in a telephone interview yesterday from Casablanca. “They’re afraid of getting stuck like they did in Egypt. This is just a normal reaction to the news, but I think this is an isolated incident.”

A series of terrorist bombings occurred in 2007 in Casablanca, including two that were detonated simultaneously outside the U.S. Consulate General and the American Language Center. Similar attacks in Casablanca in 2003 targeted restaurants and hotels, according to the U.S. State Department website.

No U.S. casualties from the explosion have been reported, Liz Gracon, a U.S. public affairs officer, said yesterday in a telephone interview from Casablanca.

The State Department website notes that “the potential for terrorist violence against U.S. citizens and interests remains high in Morocco.”

Tourism in Morocco accounts for almost 10 percent of gross domestic product. Revenue from tourism was the biggest foreign- currency earner last year, drawing 56.6 billion dirhams ($7 billion).

Moroccan Economy

Morocco’s economy may expand 4.6 percent this year compared with 3.3 percent in 2010, the state statistics office, Haut- Commissariat Au Plan, said in March.

The popular protests that ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have spread to Morocco, though they have been smaller and more peaceful. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI pledged on March 9 to create a commission to review the country’s constitution by June and for a referendum to be held after that. He promised to allow religious freedom and more transparent justice.

Morocco “will confront this hideous criminal act” and is “determined to press ahead with its democratic project,” Taj said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Donna Abu Nasr in Dubai at; Mariam Fam in Cairo at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at

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