An explosion in Marrakesh, Morocco, has killed 14 people and injured 20, most of them tourists. The blast, in a busy café, is thought to be the work of terrorists.
The blast occurred at Cafe Argana in Place Jemaa el Fna, a popular bazaar that is a major tourist attraction in Marrakesh.
Officials said that the Marrakesh explosion appears to have been “a criminal act” but did not speculate on whether it was carried out by Islamist militants.
“Early evidence collected at the site (of the explosion) indicates that it was a criminal act,” the ministry said in the statement carried by the official MAP news agency.
Witnesses report seeing rescuers pulling dismembered bodies from the wreckage of the café after the explosion. Most of those injured and killed appear to have been tourists.
“There was a huge bang, and lots of smoke went up, there was debris raining down from the sky. Hundreds of people were running in panic, some towards the cafe, some away from the square. The whole front of the cafe is blown away,” witness Andy Birnie, of north London, told the Associated Press.
According to Morocco’s Interior Ministry, the explosion killed 14 people, including an undisclosed number of foreigners. Another 20 people were injured.
There has been unrest in Morocco in recent weeks, thousands of Moroccans held a peaceful demonstration on Sunday, calling for a radical overhaul of the country’s governance before a new constitution is unveiled in June by King Mohammed VI.
Every year thousands of tourists flock to Morocco, and Marrakesh in particular. Place Jemaa el Fna , where the explosion took place, is famous for its market, snake charmers, fire breathers and old town, or medina.
Morocco is largely stable but in 2003, suicide bombers killed 45 people in Casablanca. Since then, Moroccan authorities have been on alert for terrorist activity.
Police have opened an investigation.
Watch raw footage of the Morocco blast, obtained by the Associated Press.