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Explosion hits cafe in Marrakech, killing 14

RABAT | A massive explosion ripped through a cafe popular among tourists in the Moroccan city of Marrakech on Thursday, killing 14 people, including foreigners and wounding 20 in what the government called a criminal attack.

The blast in the Djemma el-Fna Square was Morocco’s deadliest attack in eight years.

The explosion just before noon tore the facade off the two-story, terra cotta-colored Argana cafe, leaving awnings dangling. Panicked passers-by dragged away bodies and tried to put out flames with fire extinguishers, witnesses told the Associated Press.

The square, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a focal point for the hordes of Western tourists who visit the central city of Marrakech seeking a taste of the exotic in this Muslim kingdom on the Atlantic Ocean. The square is known for its snake charmers, fire-breathers and old town, or medina.

Moroccan government spokesman Khalid Naciri said that the 14 slain people came from a variety of countries, but he did not say which ones. Twenty others were injured.


European rights group decries newspaper closings

VIENNA | Europe’s leading human rights group Thursday condemned Belarus for moving to close two independent newspapers critical of the authoritarian government.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe “expressed alarm over the lawsuits filed by the Belarusian Information Ministry aimed at shutting down [the newspapers] Nasha Niva and Narodnaya Volya.

“This move by the Belarusian government to silence a few remaining critical voices will further diminish media pluralism in the country.”

On their websites, the newspapers said an official told them they had exceeded the maximum number of warnings allowed for a media publication within a year.


Police arrest, beat opposition leader again

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