Morocco nabs members of AQIM cell

Jan. 5, 2011 at 1:23 PM

RABAT, Morocco, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Authorities in Morocco claimed they arrested 27 people who were part of an al-Qaida cell plotting a terrorist attack in the country.

The Moroccan Interior Ministry said the cell was led by "a Moroccan national who is a member of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and who wanted to create a rear base in the country for terror attacks," the Italian news agency Adnkronos reports.

The Moroccan monarchy was vague on specifics but said the AQIM cell was planning attacks using suicide belts and cars rigged with explosives. Local teens were being recruited for training camps run by AQIM in Algeria and Mali, the report added.

AQIM, the North African branch of al-Qaida, was blamed for the recent kidnapping of five French nationals. An American aid worker was killed by al-Qaida guerrillas last year.

AQIM in July announced that it beheaded Michel Germaneau after an attempt by French authorities to rescue the 78-year-old French engineer in Mali. Germaneau was kidnapped in April by AQIM in the northern Niger desert near the border of Mali and Algeria.

Algerian officials told French newspaper Le Monde on condition of anonymity that military forces would attack AQIM targets in the country "for some time."

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