REFILE-Morocco says arrests 15 for Islamic State links
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RABAT, March 17 (Reuters) - Moroccan authorities said on Friday they had arrested 15 people suspected of ties with Islamic State in the latest raid officials say targetted militant networks.
The suspects had been active in Casablanca, Marrakech, Tangiers, and Agadir, among other cities, and were involved in inciting or threatening to carry out attacks, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by MAP state news agency.
"Certain individuals arrested acquired knowledge in making explosives and were in the process of acquiring material to make explosive charges to carry out terrorist operations targeting sensitive locations," the statement said.
It said one suspect was conducting surveillance in Casablanca with the intention of creating a video claiming an attack in the name of Islamic State. Other suspects had attempted to acquire firearms to target public figures.
A Moroccan security source previously told Reuters the government believes nearly 2,000 Moroccans have fought in Syria's war and in Iraq with Islamic State.
The source said around 200 were known to have returned home and all of them were arrested, mainly at the airport when their flights landed.
The North African kingdom has suffered attacks in the past by militants. In 2011 a blast in a cafe in Marrakesh killed 15 people including 10 foreigners. It was the worst attack since 2003, when suicide bombings killed more than 45 people in Casablanca. (Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; editing by Patrick Markey and Richard Lough)
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