Explosion at Casablanca video game arcade kills 1, injures six
CASABLANCA, Morocco (AP) â€” An explosion rocked a suburb of Casablanca early Wednesday, killing at least one person and injuring six, residents and government officials said. An Interior Ministry official said the blast was accidental and not linked to terrorism. (And my name is Jack Rabbit../ed)
The explosion on the Boulevard el Joulane in the Salmia neighborhood of Casablanca, Morocco’s economic capital, occurred around 8:45 GMT in or near a video game arcade, said Hassan Sajeed, a witness.
Sajeed said the windows of his apartment were blown out by the blast, which reverberated through the neighborhood. Several people were covered in blood, he said by telephone from the site of the explosion. He said an elderly woman had head injuries from fragments of stone.
One car flipped over and lay on its roof, charred and surrounded by broken glass on the cordoned-off street. Several other cars were badly damaged, as were the video game arcade and a nearby bank.
“Everyone here thinks it’s a bomb” because of the force of the explosion, Sajeed said. “Windows were blown out in a 40-meter radius.”
But a senior Interior Ministry official said a gas canister had exploded by accident. He requested anonymity in keeping with Moroccan government regulations regarding security matters.
The official MAP news agency also said one person died and six were wounded, one of them seriously. It said the blast was “probably” due to the explosion of a gas canister.
The explosion came as Morocco celebrated one of its largest national holidays, to commemorate the Mulid an-Nabi, or birthday of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
A largely moderate Muslim kingdom and a strong U.S. ally, Morocco has fended off a rise in terrorist threats in recent years. A string of attacks killed 45 people in Casablanca in 2003 and Morocco has since jailed hundreds of suspected Islamist militants on terrorism charges.
Associated Press photographer Jalil Bounhar reported from Casablanca and writer Alfred de Montesquiou reported from Tangiers, Morocco.