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Scandinavian tourists believed to have been murdered by men connected to ISIS

Scandinavian tourists believed to have been murdered by men connected to ISIS

Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark, and 28-year-old Maren Ueland of Norway, were murdered near North Africa's highest peak.

Three more men have been arrested for the murder of two Scandinavian women in Africa's Atlas Mountains, as authorities are now investigating the attack as a possible "terrorist" act.

Police arrested a suspect in Marrakech on Tuesday and are still hunting three other men identified by initials "RA", "AE" and "OE".

In a statement to The Associated Press, Denmark's domestic security agency said the preliminary investigation "indicate, according to Moroccan authorities, that the killings may be related to the terrorist organization the Islamic State group". (Facebook) The horrific video appears to show one woman being decapitated while one of the men can be heard saying, "this is in revenge for our brothers in Hajin".

Authorities in Denmark and Norway warned their citizens against hiking without local guides in Morocco after the killings.

The killing can be considered "politically motivated and thus an act of terror", Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said on Thursday.

Danish intelligence services said they have authenticated a video showing the murder of one of two Scandinavian women in Morocco. The bodies were found on Monday morning by French tourists hiking nearby. The women's bodies had been mutilated, and investigators say they were both sexually assaulted.

Danish hiker Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, left, and her Norwegian travel companion Maren Uelan were found dead at a campsite above the tourist village of Imlil.

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Morocco has been spared jihadist attacks since 2011, when a bomb attack on a cafe in Marrakesh's famed Jamaa El Fna Square killed 17 people, a lot of them European tourists.

Morocco's general prosecutor later confirmed the authenticity of the video in which the four suspects pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

Jespersen and Ueland were on a month-long trip when they were killed, Ueland's mother told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

Ueland's mother, Irene Ueland, said her daughter's "first priority was security".

She said: "Dear friends, I'm going to Morocco in December".

Morocco has largely avoided the terrorist violence prevalent in other North African countries, thanks in part to the 2015 creation of the Central Bureau for Judicial Investigations, which has so far broken up 57 militant cells, including eight in 2018.

Tourism is a cornerstone of Morocco's economy and the kingdom's second-largest employer, after agriculture.