A MASSIVE explosion ripped through a cafe popular with foreign tourists in the Moroccan city of Marrakech last night, killing 14 and wounding 20 in what the government called a “criminal act”.
The suspected suicide bombing in the iconic Djemma el-Fna Square was the North African kingdom’s deadliest bombing in eight years.
“We cannot at this stage determine the exact identity of all the victims,” said a medical source, but it is believed 11 of those killed were foreigners.
The explosion just before noon, local time, tore the facade off the two-storey Argana cafe. Panicked passers-by dragged away bodies and tried to put out flames with fire extinguishers, witnesses said.
“There was a huge bang, and lots of smoke went up. There was debris raining down from the sky,” said Andy Birnie, a holidaymaker from London. “Hundreds of people were running in panic, some towards the cafe, some away from the square. The whole front of the cafe is blown away.”
The state news agency MAP quoted the Interior Ministry as saying there were 14 people killed and 20 hurt. It appeared to be a “criminal act” and an investigation was under way.
The square is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its snake charmers, fire breathers and old town or medina.
Morocco, calm in recent years, was hit by suicide attacks in Casablanca in 2003 that killed 45 people. Authorities have regularly rounded up terror suspects since then and have been on alert for terrorist activity.