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'Act of terror': Morocco arrests three suspected extremists over Scandinavian women's murder Open in fullscreen

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'Act of terror': Morocco arrests three suspected extremists over Scandinavian women's murder

Moroccan media outlets have published images of the three suspects [AFP]

Date of publication: 20 December, 2018

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Moroccan authorities have arrested three fugitive suspects with links to Islamic extremist groups in the grisly murder of two Scandinavian hikers following an intensive manhunt.

Moroccan authorities have arrested three fugitive suspects with links to Islamic extremist groups in the grisly murder of two Scandinavian hikers following an intensive manhunt.

Moroccan state news agecny MAP announced the development on Thursday that security forces arrested two of the suspects in the city of Marrakesh.

"An investigation is ongoing on the suspicions that there was a terrorist motive for this crime that has been supported by uncovered evidence," the report said.

On Thursday, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said at a news conference that "much now indicates that the killings could be politically motivated and thus a terrorist act". 

The arrests come after a first one on Monday hours after the women's bodies were found in the Atlas mountains.

Moroccan media outlets have published images of the three suspects and their names.

They have also reported that one of the women (24-year-old Louisa Vesterager Jespersen from Denmark and 28-year-old Maren Ueland from Norway) had been beheaded.

All three suspects are from Marrakesh, and one of them had "a court record linked to terrorist acts".

Danish authorities said on Thursday they had authenticated a video posted on social media showing the murder of one of the women.

"The video and preliminary investigation according to the Moroccan authorities indicate that the killings may be related to the terrorist organisation Islamic State," the Danish intelligence service said in a statement.

The women's' bodies were found on Monday, after they had pitched their tent at an isolated mountain site two hours walk from the tourist village of Imlil.

The murders have shaken the region and fuelled fears that tourists will stay away.

Tourism is a cornerstone of Morocco's economy, accounting for 10 percent of national income.

The most recent jihadist attack in the country hit in 2011, when 17 people were killed in Marrakesh. An attack in the financial capital Casablanca left 33 dead in 2003.

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