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Frenchman Sought in May Blasts

June 02, 2003|From Times Wire Services

RABAT, Morocco — Security officials here are hunting a French national suspected of involvement in the May 16 suicide blasts that rocked the business hub of Casablanca, killing 43 people, security sources said Sunday.

Quoting sources close to the investigation, the official MAP news agency said the suspect, Robert Richard Antoine Pierre, also used the aliases Lhaj and Abou Abderrahman. It said the Frenchman was in flight in the northern region of Tangiers.

"What we know is that he has been living in Morocco for a while and that he is involved in the attacks," a senior security source said, declining to give more details.

Thirty-one people were killed in the attacks, along with 12 suicide bombers who targeted five sites in the sprawling city, including a Spanish restaurant, the five-star Farah Hotel and a Jewish community center.

King Mohammed VI will skip a planned trip to Egypt this week for a summit of President Bush and Arab leaders, a government official said Sunday. The official, on condition of anonymity, said the decision was made because Morocco is still dealing with the bombings' aftermath.

Authorities said Saturday that they had charged 16 men in connection with the suicide bombings, seven of whom were a "reserve team" of bombers.

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