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2003 Casablanca bombings
Location Casablanca, Morocco
Date May 16, 2003
Target Western and Jewish targets in the bustling tourist city
Attack type suicide attack
Death(s) 45
Injured More than 100
Perpetrator(s) Salafia Jihadia

The 2003 Casablanca bombings were a series of suicide bombings on May 16, 2003, in Casablanca, Morocco. The attacks were the deadliest terrorist attacks in the country's history. The attacks occurred four days after the Riyadh compound bombings that targeted Western compounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, killing 26 people. The suicide bombers came from the shanty towns of Sidi Moumen, a poor suburb of Casablanca, and were from the Salafia Jihadia group.

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The bombings

The 14 bombers, most between 20 and 23 years old, bombed several places on the night of May the 16th. In the deadliest attack, bombers wearing explosives knifed a guard at the "Casa de España" restaurant, a Spanish-owned eatery in the city. They blew themselves up inside the building, killing 20 people, many of them dining and playing bingo.

The five-star Hotel Farah was bombed next, killing a guard and a porter. Another bomber killed three passersby as he attempted to bomb a Jewish cemetery. He was 150 yards (140 m) away from the cemetery and likely lost, so he blew up by a fountain. Two additional bombers attacked a Jewish community center, but killed no one because the building was closed and empty. It would have been packed the next day.[1]

Another bomber attacked a Jewish-owned Italian restaurant, and another blew up near the Belgian consulate which is located meters away from the restaurant, killing two police officers.

In all, 12 bombers died, along with 33 civilians. Two bombers were arrested before they could carry out attacks. More than 100 people were injured. Eight of the dead were Europeans (three Spanish among them) and the rest were Moroccan.

In April 2008, nine Islamic extremists convicted in the Casablanca bombings in 2003 that killed 45 people and wounded scores more tunneled their way out of prison, officials said. Abderrahim Mahtade, who represents a prisoners’ advocacy group, said the fugitives had escaped from the Kenitra prison, north of Rabat, after dawn prayers. He said one of the nine had been sentenced to death, six to life imprisonment and two to 20 years.[1]

Response

Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, toured the bombing sites and was cheered by crowds of people. Moroccan authorities said in May 2004 that they had arrested 2,000 people in connection with the attacks, and began to put them on trial.

World leaders condemned the attacks, coming on the heels of the Riyadh compound bombings. In response to that attack and the Casablanca attacks, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security raised the terror threat level to Orange.

Salafia Jihadia, an offshoot of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group and believed to have al-Qaeda links, is suspected of sending out the bombers. Evidence suggests that Iraqi Al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may have played a role. On March 19, 2004, Belgian police arrested a suspect wanted by the Moroccan government in connection with the bombings.[2] In December 2004, a man named Hasan al-Haski, charged in the 2004 Madrid bombings, was questioned over his links to the Casablanca bombings and was believed to have helped plan them.

See also

References

External links

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