Nine more people have been arrested over the killing of two Scandinavian university students in a remote corner of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, bringing the total arrests to 13. Authorities in Morocco see the killings as a terrorist act.
Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations says the latest arrests were made Dec. 20 and Dec. 21 across the country.
Moroccan investigators say the nine arrested were carrying arms and “suspicious materials” used in the making of explosives.
A plane carrying the remains of 24-year-old Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland flew out of Casablanca and headed to Copenhagen on Dec. 21.
The two friends were on a camping trip when they were brutally murdered. Their bodies were found by French hikers on Dec. 17 with stab wounds in their necks, 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) from the village of Imlil, on the way to Toubkal, north Africa’s highest peak and a popular hiking destination.
‘Revenge’ Slaying Captured on Camera
A video of the slaying of one of the women is said to be circulating on Moroccan social media, sparking outrage. In Norway, police said it is likely authentic.
“There is no concrete evidence indicating the video is not real,” Norway’s National Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) said.
According to Morocco World News, in the video one of the suspects speaks in Moroccan Arabic (Darija): “This is a revenge for our brothers in Hajin.” Hajin is a small Syrian town that is being freed from ISIS control by Syrian Democratic Forces.
There was another video in which the four initial suspects appeared to be pledging their allegiance to ISIS.
Regarding the video, Norway’s NCIS said that “neither Norway nor Denmark was mentioned in the video, nor was there anything specific about what action they should perform.”
Slain in Their Tents
Both Jespersen and Ueland had lived in southern Norway where they attended university.
Helle Jespersen, one of the women’s mother, said she urged her daughter not to go to Morocco.
“We advised her to go down because it’s such a chaotic place, and you’ve heard of people who have been killed down there,” she was quoted by the Telegraph as saying.
Unnamed local sources told The Sun that three “homeless” men were seen camping near the two women.
“Three homeless men came from Marrakech and pitched a tent right next to the girls’ tent,” a hotelier was quoted as saying. “The men were not from around here.”
ISIS supporters have sent hundreds of horrific images and a beheading video directly to one of the victim’s grieving mothers, according to The Sun.
Disturbing images of the severed and partially severed heads of one of the murdered backpackers were reportedly also placed on the Facebook page of the heartbroken mother, according to the report.
The Associated Press and Tom Ozimek of The Epoch Times contributed to this report