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New arrests in Morocco over murder of Scandinavian hikers: police

The bodies of the two women were found on Monday [AFP]

Date of publication: 21 December, 2018

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The remains of Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland were put on a plane that left Casablanca for the Danish capital Friday.
Moroccan authorities have made nine new arrests over the grisly murder of two young Scandinavian hikers by suspected militants in the kingdom's High Atlas Mountains, police said on Friday.

The suspects were taken into custody for their "alleged links with the perpetrators of the terrorist act", Morocco's central bureau of judicial investigations said.

The remains of Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland were put on a plane that left Casablanca for the Danish capital Friday.

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

One of them was beheaded, according to a source close to the investigation.

Imlil is a starting point for trekking and climbing tours of Mount Toubkal, which at 4,167 metres is the highest summit in North Africa.

Hours after the grisly discovery authorities announced the arrest of a first suspect and later said he belonged to an "extremist" group, while the three other suspects were arrested Thursday.

Moroccan investigators are probing a link to Islamist extremism after a video emerged showing the suspects "pledging allegiance" to Islamic State, the Rabat prosecutor has said.

Authorities were working to determine the authenticity of a video posted on social media networks allegedly showing the murder of one of the tourists, according to the prosecutor.

"At this point, there is no tangible evidence that the video is not authentic," Norway's criminal investigations agency Kripos said on Friday.

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