The lone suspect arrested in the killing of two Scandinavian tourists in Morocco's Atlas Mountains is connected to a terrorist group, and three other suspects are on the run, Moroccan authorities said Wednesday. State television 2M reported on its website that authorities consider the two women's slayings a terrorist act. Local media reported that the suspects had links to the Islamic State group, the AP reports. The women, who were from Denmark and Norway, were discovered stabbed in the neck Monday by other tourists, who alerted police, according to national media. Hiking in the area was temporarily suspended. The killings have shocked Morocco, a popular tourist destination where such attacks on foreigners are extremely rare; the country is generally considered safe for tourists and is a key ally of the United States and Europe in the fight against terrorism.
The Rabat public prosecutor's office said in a statement Wednesday that the only captured suspect has affiliations to a terrorist group, without naming the group. The suspect was arrested in Marrakech on Tuesday. The remote mountainous region where the women were found dead is 6.2 miles from the village of Imlil—often the starting point for treks to Mount Toubkal, North Africa's highest peak. Moroccan media outlets reported that investigators have video surveillance footage showing three suspects putting up a tent near the victims' tent and leaving the area after the slaying. The women have been identified as Maren Ueland, 28, and Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, both of whom were students at the University of South-Eastern Norway. "What we know is that they were on a monthlong, private holiday in Morocco," the university said on its home page. (Another young tourist was murdered in New Zealand just after starting what was supposed to be a yearlong trip.)