updated 4/5/2004 3:32:15 PM ET 2004-04-05T19:32:15

Authorities detained 13 suspected militants, including one about to flee the country, in a dawn raid Monday stemming from deadly terrorist attacks in Casablanca, Morocco, police said.

Agents raided eight locations in search of suspects connected to last year’s bombings in Casablanca, police sources said.

Morocco had issued arrest warrants for three of the suspects, including Moustapha Baouchi, a Moroccan who allegedly underwent explosives training in militant camps in Afghanistan and is thought to have headed a six-member Islamic cell in Paris. His brother also was detained.

The names of the others were not released. Under French law, they can be held for up to 96 hours without being formally placed under investigation.

French connection
The operation was part of an investigation into near-simultaneous suicide attacks in Casablanca that killed 33 people and 12 bombers on May 16, 2003, authorities said.

Paris prosecutors opened an investigation three days after the attacks because three of the victims were French.

The DST, France’s domestic security agency, conducted the roundup in the suburbs of Paris on orders of two French anti-terrorism judges, Jean-Louis Bruguiere and Jean-Francois Ricard.

One person was detained at Charles de Gaulle Airport as he tried to leave the country, Paris prosecutor Yves Bot said.

Those detained for questioning are suspected of belonging to the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, Bot said. The organization, which has alleged links to al-Qaida, has been blamed by the Spanish government in the March 11 rail attacks in Madrid that killed 191 people.

No Madrid link
However, Bot said authorities do not have evidence linking the suspects in France to the Madrid bombings.

“These investigations are the culmination of a long probe ... into the networks linked to the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group,” Bot said in a statement.

The DST conducted the operation as part of an investigation involving other foreign intelligence services, the Interior Ministry said. DST agents were assisted by special intervention police.

Fifteen suspects are in custody in the Madrid attacks. Six have been charged with mass murder and nine with collaborating with or belonging to a terrorist organization. Eleven of the 15 charged are Moroccan.

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