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9 convicted of terror attacks escape Morocco jail

/ Source: The Associated Press

Nine people convicted in cases linked to 2003 terrorist attacks in Casablanca have escaped from prison, Morocco's state news agency reported Monday.

The Moroccan Justice Ministry said in a statement that officials discovered Monday morning that the nine had escaped from a prison in Kenitra, 25 miles northwest of the capital Rabat, MAP reported.

The ministry said all measures have been taken to find the escapees.

MAP said the nine were convicted "in cases linked to the 2003 events," without elaborating. Officials in the Moroccan interior and justice ministries would not comment on the report.

Suicide bombings in Casablanca in May 2003 killed 45 people, including the attackers. The attacks stunned this relatively moderate Muslim nation and U.S. ally, waking it up to the threat of terrorism.

The bombings targeted a Jewish community center and cemetery, a hotel, a restaurant and a Spanish social club.

Authorities have carried out regular anti-terror sweeps since then, often raising concerns among human rights groups, which say that many innocent people have been targeted.

In March last year, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a Casablanca cyber cafe, and investigators later uncovered an alleged plot targeting tourist sites across Morocco. In April 2007, two brothers strapped with explosives blew themselves up near the U.S. consulate.