Morocco says to bolster security in the face of 'threats'

RABAT (AFP) - Morocco, which has frequently reported the arrest of jihadists and is concerned over the number of its citizens fighting in Syria and Iraq, announced Saturday plans to bolster its security.

Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad said new measures will be deployed progressively to "confront the different threats facing the kingdom," according to his office.

Mr Hassad did not identify those threats, but said the measures would cover "vulnerable" locations across the North African country and involve the army, police and other security forces.

In mid-October authorities announced the arrest of a Moroccan man, with his two young French daughters in tow, as he sought to join up with the Islamic State group that has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq.

More than 2,000 Moroccan jihadists, including those with dual nationality, are now fighting in Syria and Iraq, the authorities say.

Mr Hassad said the bolstered measures would aim to protect both Moroccans and foreigners who visit the country, a key tourist destination.

Following the beheading in September of a French tourist in Algeria by jihadists, France urged its nationals to exercise vigilance in some 40 countries, mainly Muslim states in north Africa and Asia.

The call had a knock-on effect on travel to several countries and caused a cancellation rate of 15 percent in both Morocco and Tunisia, according to industry experts.