Morocco arrests women linked to 'ISIS terrorist' cell

RABAT (AFP) - Two women suspected of belonging to a cell linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group that planned to carry out attacks in Morocco have been arrested, the interior ministry said Friday.

"Two women extremists from the terrorist cell that was recently dismantled and whose members had pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State were arrested on Thursday in Tangiers," a ministry statement cited by the official MAP news agency reported.

It said the pair had also been to "Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan".

On Tuesday, the authorities said eight people had been arrested over alleged plots to carry out attacks mainly targeting security officials on behalf of ISIS.

The newly formed Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation - dubbed Morocco's FBI by the media - said an eight-member "terrorist cell" was dismantled across the country in the towns of Tangiers, Bouznika, Khouribga and Taounate.

It said the eight had been in contact with ISIS leaders and given refuge to fighters who had received "intensive training in producing explosives and gang warfare".

It said members of the network were planning "a series of terrorist operations" against security officials and sensitive sites.

Morocco, which is on guard against deadly attacks of the type carried out by ISIS in Tunisia, prides itself on being a bastion in North Africa against Islamist extremism with its anti-extremist unit and training of imams to preach tolerance.

An estimated 1,500 Moroccans, however, figure among the ranks of militant groups.