After the bomb hit the Marrakesh Argana

By Andrew Rosemarine, May 5, 2011
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Morocco’s King Mohammed at the site of the Argana cafe bombing

Morocco’s King Mohammed at the site of the Argana cafe bombing

Horror is the only word to describe the Argana Restaurant in Marrakesh minutes after it was blown to pieces. Bodies and shredded parts were strewn around; ambulances dashed up to the site and pulled away at speed.

Last week's attack, which left 16 dead and over 20 wounded, struck at the heart of old Marrakesh, in Djema el Fnaa square, the hub of the tourist trade. The normally bustling, vibrant area is famous for its musicians, snake charmers, contortionists and food vendors.

As well as JC writer Peter Moss, Jewish couple Messaoud Zekri and his pregnant wife Michal Zekri-Weizman, died in the blast. The pair had travelled to Marrakesh to visit Mr Zekri's father for Pesach.

The Argana's first floor, which looked out on to the square, is gone. It faced the very symbol of Marrakesh herself: the giant Koutubia minaret, built by Yacoub al Mansour of the fundamentalist Almuwahidun dynasty, in what was then the capital of their empire. They slaughtered many for religious reasons eight centuries ago. Their heirs have returned with a vengeance today.

Later, a crowd of young demonstrators gathered at the site of the attack, holding up "Down with Terrorism" placards and passionately chanting the kingdom's motto: "Allah, alwatan, al malik".

A few days before the explosion, al-Qaida had warned that an attack in Morocco was imminent. A senior member has claimed responsibility since. Most experts believe it was organised by militant Salafists, unhappy that recent demonstrations have failed to shake faith in the King, Mohammed VI.

Last updated: 8:31am, May 6 2011