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Hiker describes horror of finding murdered backpackers’ ‘broken’ bodies in Morocco


A hiker has described the horrifying moment she discovered the bodies of two murdered backpackers in Morocco.

Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway, and Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark were discovered with cuts to their neck in the tourist village of Imlil in the Atlas mountains on Monday.

Their deaths are being treated as an act of terrorism with the butchers believed to have killed them ‘pledging allegiance to ISIS’ in a chilling video before the killings.

Danish officials have authenticated the chilling footage of the murders which has been circulating online.

Now a French hiker has told of the how she discovered the “broken” bodies of the slain tourists.

Maren Ueland from Norway

The woman said she and her girlfriend found the bodies while on a morning hike in the isolated area near Imlil, on the way to Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak.

Speaking to Norwegian news outlet vg.no, she said: “My girlfriend and I are on vacation and were going on a little hike.

“We started at 9.15. After about an hour’s walk from Imlil, we arrived on a plateau.

“We saw a tent and that it was open and we saw the two girls.

“It was horrible. They were broken. We warned everyone we saw in Imlil not to go up there. I did not want more to see what we had seen.

A French hiker said she and her girlfriend were on an early morning hike when they discovered the bodies of Maren and Louisa

“It was a big shock, we’re thinking about it all day. It makes you think about what’s important in life.

“To live and to be happy, to be happy. I’m sorry for the families and hope this will be resolved quickly.”

Police arrested a suspect on Tuesday in the tourist hub of Marrakech who they said belonged to a militant group.

Three more were picked up later in the city, the Central Bureau for Judicial Investigations said.

Morocco’s general prosecutor on Thursday confirmed the authenticity of a video in which he said the four pledged allegiance to Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

In the video, which was posted on social media, the suspects threatened to carry out attacks, the general prosecutor said in a statement.

Investigations by the bureau also showed the video was made last week before the killing of the two women. The evidence discovered so far pointed to a terrorist motive, the bureau said.

Preliminary investigations of the video found that it was shot in a different place from where the women’s bodies were found, a police source told Reuters.

One body was found outside the tent while the other was inside

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Danish intelligence said earlier on Thursday that Islamic State could be behind the killings.

“The video and preliminary investigation according to the Moroccan authorities indicate that the killings may be related to the terrorist organisation Islamic State,” the Danish intelligence service said in a statement.

“This is a case of an unusually bestial killing of two totally innocent young women,” it said.

Before leaving, Jespersen had posted on Facebook about her upcoming trip.

“Dear friends, I’m going to Morocco in December. Any of you guys who’s around by then or any mountain friends who knows something about Mount Toubkal?”

Compared to other countries in North Africa, Morocco has been largely insulated from militant attacks. The most recent took place in April 2011, when 17 people were killed in a bombing of a restaurant in Marrakech.

“This is a brutal and meaningless attack on innocent people, which we react to with disgust and condemnation,” Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a statement.

The Bureau for Judicial Investigations, established in 2015, says it has so far broken up 57 militant cells, including eight in 2018.

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