Flowers and candles in memory of Louisa Vesterager Jespersen and Maren Ueland, who were killed in Morocco during a trekking trip, are seen at the Town Hall Square in Copenhagen, Denmark December 28, 2018. Ritzau Scanpix/Thomas Sjoerup/via REUTERS Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS
RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco arrested a Swiss national on Saturday in connection with the killing of two Scandinavian women, the counter-terrorism agency said.
Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark, and Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway were found dead early on Dec. 17 near the village of Imlil in the Atlas Mountains.
The man arrested is also suspected of “involvement in recruiting Moroccan and sub-Saharan nationals to carry out terrorist plots in Morocco against foreign targets and security forces in order to take hold of their service weapons”, the Central Bureau for Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) said.
It said he also held Spanish nationality with residence in Morocco.
Nineteen other men have been arrested in connection with the case, including four main suspects who had pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a video made three days before the tourists’ bodies were found.
Police and domestic intelligence spokesman Boubker Sabik this week described the four men as “lone wolves”, and said “the crime was not coordinated with Islamic State”.
Compared with other countries in North Africa, Morocco has been largely insulated from militant attacks.
The most recent took place in April 2011, when 17 people were killed in the bombing of a restaurant in Marrakech. In 2017 and 2018, Morocco said it dismantled 20 militant cells planning attacks in the country.
(This story has been refiled to add dropped word “he” in paragraph four)
Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Alison Williams