Morocco arrests 11 suspects linked to IS militants

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Moroccon security services said they had arrested the ‘suspected mastermind’ of militant cell

Moroccan police on Saturday arrested 11 members of an “extremely dangerous terrorist” cell linked to the Islamic State group and seized chemical products used to make bombs, the interior ministry said.

The suspects were active in the neighbouring northern cities of Fez and Meknes, in commercial capital Casablanca, as well as in the central town of Khouribga, a statement said.

The ministry said the “extremely dangerous terrorist” cell had planned to carry out attacks in “sensitive areas… in coordination with an affiliate” of the Islamic State group.

Moroccan media broadcast live video footage showing heavily armed and masked members of an elite police unit surrounding a building in Fez.

The ministry said the unit searched an apartment and arrested the “suspected mastermind of the cell and one of his accomplices”.

Police also seized firearms, knives, gas cannisters as well as “products used to make homemade bombs” and a car carrying “suspicious material” that was near the building, the ministry added.

Morocco has been spared deadly militant attacks since a 2011 bombing in Marrakesh’s famed Jamaa El Fna Square that killed 17 people, mainly European tourists.

But in recent months, authorities have regularly announced the dismantling of IS cells and arrests of suspected militant recruiters.