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Monday, April 16, 2007


(AKI) - Spanish authorities are hunting for two Moroccans, both alleged al-Qaeda members believed to have attended an al-Qaeda training camp in Mali and to have recently fled from Morocco to Spain, daily ABC reported on Friday. Police believed the two militants know how to make an explosives belt and that at least one of them is hiding in the southern Andalusia region, the paper said. One entered Spain via a people trafficking network operating in northern Morocco, where security has been steppped up in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla - both with significant Muslim populations - said ABC.

Spain's interior minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba on Thursday decided to boost security in the provinces where the highest number of ililegal immigrants arrive from North Africa and where the authorities fear Islamist extremists could infiltrate - Cadiz, Malaga, Almeria and Alicante - as well as in Ceuta and Melilla.

Despite this week's bombings in Algeria and in Morocco, Spain's authorities have decided not to raise the alert level from 'moderate' currently to 'high'. Twin bombings in the Algerian capital on Wednesday that killed 33 and injured over 200 came a day after a police raid in the Moroccan city of Casablanca in which three suspected Islamist militants blew themselves up after a police raid in which a fourth was shot dead.

The Moroccan authorities on Thursday announced they had arrested two suspects at least one which is believed to belong to an alleged Islamist terror cell cornered by police in Tuesday's raid on the al-Fida district of Casablanca. Morocco's interior minister Chakib Benmoussa said late on Wednesday he suspected three to four members of the suspected Casablanca cell might still be on the run.

A team of police and civil guard officers has gone to Morocco to assist their counterparts' investigation of an alleged plot to carry out suicide attacks in the country, ABC reported on Thursday.

The al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb claimed the Algiers attacks in a message sent to Arabic satellite TV network Al Jazeera. Morocco's interior minister Chakib Benmoussa has stated there was no link between Tuesday's raid in Casablanca and Wednesday's attacks in Algiers. Nontheless, the bombings are stoking fears of a widening conflict that could spread from North Africa to Europe, analysts say.

Spain raised its alert level to moderate in February when the trial of 29 people for the deadly 11 March 2004 train bombings opened in Madrid. Many of the defendants are of Moroccan and most of North African origins. The Madrid attacks - the deadliest in Western Europe since the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland - killed 191 people and injured over 1,000.
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