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Suspect in Morocco Blast Dies

May 29, 2003|From Associated Press

RABAT, Morocco — Authorities arrested a man suspected of coordinating the bombings in Casablanca that killed 43 people, but he died in custody, judicial officials said Wednesday.

The man, captured Monday in Fez, was identified as Abdelhak or as Moul Sebbat, which means "shoe seller," said Alaoui Belghiti, prosecutor general of the appeals court of Casablanca.

Belghiti said the suspect suffered from heart disease and died while being transferred to a hospital.

Officials have released no other details about him and did not say whether he had links to foreign terrorist groups suspected of being involved in the attack.

"His health unfortunately did not allow investigators to finish all the elements of the probe," Belghiti told Moroccan public television.

The near-simultaneous blasts May 16 at Jewish, Spanish and Belgian sites in Casablanca killed 31 people and 12 bombers.

Two other bombers survived and were captured, along with a third man, who the prosecutor said was part of a reserve unit of bombers prepared "to perpetrate suicide operations in other cities."

The two bombers who survived have been charged with attacking the security of the state, membership in a criminal group and attempted murder, officials said. They could face the death penalty if convicted.

The bombers were all Moroccan, but authorities believe that the attacks were the work of an international network.

Investigators were focusing on whether the attackers were linked to Muslim extremist groups such as Salafiya Jihadia, a local alliance suspected of having ties to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network.

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