Two Scandinavian tourists were found dead on Thursday afternoon in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, a popular tourist destination.
Danish citizen Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and Norwegian Maren Ueland, 28, were found stabbed to death and eight suspects have been arrested by the Moroccan authorities so far.
Moroccan authorities claim that the suspects behind the murder of the two tourists had allegedly pledged allegiance to Daesh.
Denmark’s Prime Minister Loekke Rasmussen said that it was “politically motivated and thus an act of terror”. His Norwegian counterpart declared his trust in the Moroccan authorities to investigate the case properly and combat terrorism wherever necessary.
Terrorist attacks and danger
Terrorist attacks in Morocco are a rare occurrence. The country is a popular tourist destination for Europeans and considered safe.
In 2003, bombings in Casablanca killed 33 civilians, of whom eight were foreigners and 25 Moroccans. A group linked to Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.
The last attack to take place on Morrocan soil was in 2011, when a popular tourist spot in Marrakesh, the Cafe Argana, was bombed, resulting in 17 deaths, 15 of whom were foreigners. Al Qaeda denied any involvement in that attack.
The murder of two female tourists is the first attack allegedly carried out by Daesh.
According to the New York-based Soufan Center 1,623 fighters joined Daesh from Morocco, of whom 193 have returned. Although there is no suggestion that the current suspects are affiliated with returning fighters.
Morocco is also facing issues when it comes to guaranteeing its security: high migration flows of Africans who head to Spain via Morocco, and the unstable administrations of nearby Mali, Mauritania and its broader neighbourhood.
Tourism in Morocco
More than 11 million foreigners visited Morocco in 2017, the highest number it has ever reported and a 10 percent increase on 2016 figures.
The highest number of tourists came from France, up to 1.6 million in 2017, while European tourists continue to make up the vast majority of visitors to Morocco.
Tourism is without a doubt an economic pillar of the country - and the cold-blooded murder of two women travellers could well have an impact on tourism numbers in the future.