Earlier this week two Scandinavian tourists were found murdered in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Four men have been arrested in connection with the murders.

The two students, 24-year-old Louisa Vesterager Jespersen of Denmark and 28-year-old Maren Ueland of Norway, arrived in Morocco on the 9th of December for a Christmas hiking trip. The BBC reports that they were ‘experienced with outdoor activities‘ and were well prepared for their trip to Imlil, not far from Mount Toubkal.

Their bodies were found with serious neck wounds by two French women on Monday. The Danish intelligence service is investigating a video circulating on social media which is reported to show the deaths of the two women. Norwegian authorities have said the video, in which the men claim the attack is ‘revenge for [their] brothers in Syria’, ‘is almost certainly real.’

Three of the men were arrested while carrying weapons as they boarded a bus to Agadir, prompting speculation that they may have been planning a second attack.

On Thursday, Moroccan authorities verified an earlier video in which the four attacks swore allegiance to Daesh. Reuters reports that the group also threatened further attacks.

Travel advice

  • Remain aware of your surroundings at all times. Keep an eye out for things that seems suspicious and trust your instincts. If a situation feels wrong, try to leave as quickly and unobtrusively as you can. 
  • Make sure you have appropriate travel insurance to cover any activities on your trip. If you feel you need added protection, consider buying an additional support package. 
  • Review your travel risk management plan, so you know exactly what to do in an emergency.
  • Make sure you have important contact information stored in a secure offline location.
  • Keep your devices charged. 
  • Check in regularly with friends and family. Agree check in times in advance and set up a plan for what to do if you miss a check in time. 
  • Be aware that Morocco is a target for terrorist groups operating in North Africa. There is a kidnap risk in remote areas. 
  • If something does happen, contact the local embassy as soon as it is safe to do so.

Official travel advice

Links to travel advice on visiting Morocco from the following governments –

Please note that the travel advice varies – it is worth reading them all and reaching your own conclusion.

The US Embassy in Marrakech is advising visitors to ‘exercise increased caution at this time.

From the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Crime

Incidents of violent crime occasionally occur. Two foreign nationals were murdered while hiking near Mount Toubkal in December 2018. Moroccan authorities arrested 4 individuals in connection with the murders, including 1 they say had links to “an extremist group”, following the release on social media of a video apparently showing 1 of the murders. There have been recent incidents involving the use of knives against tourists in street attacks, thefts and burglaries in the major cities and along beaches, where you should avoid quiet areas and be vigilant at all times, particularly after dark. Don’t carry large amounts of money or valuables around with you.

Petty crime is common, especially in tourist areas like the medina quarter of towns/cities and on beaches. Crimes include pick-pocketing, bag snatching and drive-by motorcycle theft of visible jewellery and handbags. Be vigilant when asking for directions and using ATMs as crime and aggressive begging can occur. Credit card fraud and scams like substituting inferior goods for those that were actually bought are common. You should remain vigilant and alert to potential confidence tricks.

Hiking

If you’re planning to hike on Mount Toubkal or on other mountains in Morocco, seek local advice and take necessary precautions, including safe camp arrangements. Trekking or camping alone can be dangerous, consider joining a group or hiring a registered guide. Crime is also a risk: 2 foreign nationals were murdered while hiking near Mount Toubkal in December 2018.

Please click through here for the rest of the advisory.

Headlines and coverage

 

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