Suspect booed at Morocco blast reconstruction

The chief suspect in Marrakesh cafe blast reconstructed the attack for authorities.

Updated: May 11, 2011, 22:07 PM IST

Marrakech: The chief suspect in the Marrakesh cafe bombing that killed 17 people, mostly foreign tourists, reconstructed the attack for authorities Wednesday as crowds of onlookers hurled insults.

A large deployment of hooded special forces was on guard as the 25-year-old Moroccan showed police how he arrived in the central city on April 28, detonated the bombs and then returned to his hometown.

Dressed as he was on the day of the blast in a blue-and-white sweatshirt and with a wig, hat, sunglasses and guitar, Adil El-Atmani was first taken to the city`s railway station where he described arriving on a 6:00 am train.

He was then taken to the Djemaa El-Fna Square, a tourist magnet in the city`s old quarter where the bombs ripped through the Argana cafe, killing 17 people including 14 foreigners.

He said he had triggered the explosions with a mobile phone about 300 metres (330 yards) from the cafe, according to a police official speaking on condition of anonymity.

Atmani appeared to cooperate with authorities during the reconstruction and even smiled at one point, according to an AFP photographer. Large crowds kept back by barricades at the square shouted insults at Atmani as he passed.

According to police, the suspect said he committed the attack with "conviction".

The reconstruction ended at the Bab Doukkala bus station in the city centre where the suspect told how he got rid of his wig in a nearby garden and then returned by bus to his home in Safi, 350 kilometres (220 miles) south of Casablanca.

Atmani was arrested last week with two other Moroccan suspects, also from Safi. They were described by police as "admirers of al Qaeda".

Moroccan authorities had initially blamed al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) for the bombing but the group denied responsibility.

Three other suspects were arrested this week but a security official said they only knew about the plan to carry out the attack and did not take part in its execution.

Atmani was tracked down through a phone found at the site of the bomb blast, sources have said.

Interior Minister Taieb Cherkaoui said last week Atmani had plotted the attack at his parents` home in Safi and described him as "a keen jihadist who has pledged allegiance to al Qaeda".

He had learned on the Internet how to make explosives, Cherkaoui said.

Foreigners killed from the attack were eight French nationals, two Swiss, one Canadian, a Dutch national, a Briton and a Portuguese national.

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.

Bureau Report