RABAT, Morocco – Two suicide bombers blew themselves up Saturday in Casablanca near an American cultural center, just days after three suicide attacks stoked new fears of terrorism in this North African kingdom, an official said.
The Interior Ministry official said one woman was injured in the attacks.
Police later arrested a man wearing an explosive belt and two other suspects in the neighborhood, which is also home to the American Consulate and a synagogue, an Interior Ministry official said.
The bombers killed themselves on a boulevard that runs behind the American cultural center, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity according to ministry policy. They were not being pursued by police, he said.
Three suicide bombers also blew themselves up Tuesday in the city, Morocco's largest. Just a day later, 33 people were killed and more than 200 injured in Al Qaeda-claimed suicide car bombings in neighboring Algeria that targeted the prime minister's office and a police station.
The official Moroccan news agency MAP quoted an unnamed police source as saying the bombers were driven by "despair" — because of police forces' efforts to break up terrorist cells and successes of recent weeks.
The attacks have stoked new fears of terrorism in this North African kingdom and across the region. On Wednesday, 33 people were killed and more than 200 were injured in al-Qaida-claimed suicide car bombings in neighboring Algeria that targeted the prime minister's office and a police station.
The U.S. Embassy warned of possible new attacks in the Algerian capital on Saturday. In a statement, it said new attacks could hit near the Algiers central post office and the ENTV national television headquarters. It did not cite a source for its unconfirmed information.
Al Qaeda in Islamic North Africa claimed responsibility for the Algeria attacks. The group formerly went by the name of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, or GSPC, but officially linked with Al Qaeda at the start of the year. It was built on the foundations of the Algerian insurgency that has fought since 1992 to try to topple the nation's secular government. The GSPC has refused an official amnesty that drew other armed insurgents home.
In Morocco, the official news agency, MAP, said the Casablanca bombers blew themselves up Saturday near a bank on Moulay Youssef Avenue. The American consulate is on the same street. MAP said the bystander suffered light injuries.
Police have been making efforts to break up terrorist cells, and the three bombers who blew themselves up on Tuesday did so after police cornered them. A police sniper shot and killed a fourth man who authorities said appeared to be preparing to detonate explosives.
Moroccan Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa said on Wednesday that police were still seeking three or four members of Tuesday's group.
In another burst of violence, a suicide attack at a Casablanca cybercafe last month killed the bomber and injured four others.
Morocco, a Muslim kingdom long known for its stability despite the violence in neighboring Algeria, awoke to a new reality in May 2003 when five suicide bombings around Casablanca killed 45 people, including a dozen bombers. Authorities launched an unprecedented crackdown on suspected militants, arresting thousands of people, including some accused of working with al-Qaida and its affiliates to plot attacks in Morocco and abroad.