RABAT, Morocco, AP -Moroccan security services have arrested 44 suspected terrorists and dismantled a network allegedly planning attacks in the North African country, the state news agency reported Monday.
The suspects, who included five former soldiers with explosives expertise, were tracked down in Casablanca and six other cities and towns, the MAP agency reported, citing a statement from the Interior Ministry.
Morocco’s government has cracked down on suspected terrorists since suicide bombings in Casablanca in 2003 left 45 people dead, and stunned a nation where most espouse moderate Islam.
Police also seized explosives, laboratory materials and propaganda leaflets, the report said.
The ministry said that the group’s leader was a former convict who recruited Islamic radicals to train them in explosives use and planned to wage a holy war.
The group allegedly sought to finance its activities through robberies of financial institutions and bank trucks, the statement said.
Human rights groups allege that innocent people have been caught up in the government’s sweep, and that many are tortured.