A deadly blast at a tourist café in Marrakesh, Morocco has killed at least 14 people and wounded about twenty others, according to media reports.
Moroccan authorities describe the explosion at the Argana café in the city's main Jamaa el-Fna square as a “criminal act.”
Early evidence collected at the site [of the explosion] indicates that it was a criminal act, the ministry said in the statement read by the official Maghreb Arabe Presse (MAP) news agency.
The interior ministry said foreigners were among the dead. A medical official told Agence France-Presse specified that 11 of the dead were foreigners.
A British witness told the BBC: It sounded like a bomb. I went outside and saw smoke and got to the cafe and saw falling masonry. I came out to the main square and saw the first floor of the cafe in ruins. People had fire extinguishers, trying to put out the fire, and others were pulling people out from the building - it was pretty bad.
Portuguese tourist Alexandre Carvalho told the Associated Press: I believe the injured were mostly tourists, judging by what they were wearing, he said.
The café is extremely popular among tourists, particularly Europeans.
Lonely Planet travel guide describes the café as one of the few cases where you'll compete with locals for elbow room and a spectacular view of the [Jamaa el-Fna] at sunset, when the restaurant stalls set up shop and the belly dancers begin to wriggle.”
However, it is unclear if the blast was an accident or a deliberate terrorist act related to ongoing protests in Morocco against the authoritarian rule of King Mohammed VI.
There has not been a significant terrorist attack in Morocco since suicide bombers killed 45 people in May 2003 in the city of Casablanca. That attack targeted a Jewish community centre, a Spanish restaurant and social club, a hotel and the Belgian consulate.