Three suspects allegedly linked to the deaths of two Scandinavian university students in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains were arrested. Moroccan national security spokesman Boubker Sabik said that the three suspects were apprehended when they attempted to flee Marrakech on a bus.
Another suspect who was found to be affiliated with an extremist group was arrested on Tuesday.
Danish intelligence agency revealed that the murder “maybe related” to the Islamic State group according to the preliminary findings from the investigation conducted by Moroccan authorities.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen confirmed the identities of the victims as 24-year-old Louisa Vesterager Jespersen of Denmark and Maren Ueland, 28 of Norway. Both are students of University of South-Eastern Norway.
“What should have been a holiday trip turned into a nightmare” for the women, Loekke Rasmussen told reporters in Denmark.
The killings were “politically motivated and thus an act of terror,” Rasmussen said, without identifying the potential motives. “There are still dark forces that want to fight our values and we must not give in.”
In Norway, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said terrorism “is not the only lead that is being investigated in Morocco,” but the case “emphasizes the importance of combating violent extremism.”
“We trust that Moroccan authorities are doing their utmost to arrest those responsible for the murders,” she said at a news conference.
The murders have shocked Morocco, a popular tourist destination where crimes committed towards foreign visitors rarely occurred. In the capital of Rabat, government spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi said Morocco condemned “this terrorist, criminal act.”
“It is an unacceptable act that does not fit with the values and traditions of Moroccan people nor the traditions of the area where the crime happened,” Khalfi said.
“It is a denounced, condemned act.”
A national security official who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media identified the suspects to The Associated Press as Abdessamad Ejjoud, born in 1993; Younes Ouziad, born in 1991; and Rashid Aftati, born in 1986.