Morocco arrests four over alleged ties with ISIS

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Rabat - Morocco on Tuesday arrested four men allegedly linked to the Islamic State jihadist group and planning attacks in the kingdom's economic capital Casablanca, the interior ministry said.

It said authorities had dismantled "a terrorist cell of four extremists who were active between Casablanca and Mograne", a rural area about 50km north of political capital Rabat.

Initial findings in the investigation pointed to the men having "pledged allegiance" to ISIS and preparing to attack "vital sites in Casablanca", it said.

In late July, Morocco announced the arrests of 52 suspects it said were planning to set up a branch of ISIS and carry out attacks in the North African country.

Rabat says 159 "terrorist cells" have been busted since 2002, including 38 over the past three years with ties to jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

A study by the US-based Soufan Group said last December that at least 1 200 Moroccans had travelled to fight alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria in the previous 18 months.

In 2011, a café bombing killed 17 people, mostly foreign tourists, in the central city of Marrakesh.

It was the deadliest attack in Morocco since the 2003 Casablanca blasts that killed 45 people, including 12 suicide bombers, and were claimed by Islamic militants.

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