Arrested jihadists planned 'biological' attacks: Morocco

Morroco police patrol in the streets of El Aaiun (AFP Photo/Samuel Aranda)

Rabat (AFP) - Morocco said Thursday that the alleged members of a jihadist cell it arrested in mid-February, including a French national, were plotting to carry out "biological" attacks in the kingdom.

"Some of the seized substances (from the suspects) are classified by international organisations which specialise in health issues as falling within the category of biological weapons dangerous for their capacity to paralyse and destroy the nervous system and cause death," the interior ministry said.

"Members of the terrorist cell had prepared these deadly substances with a view to using them in their terrorist projects inside the kingdom," it said in a statement.

On February 18, the ministry announced it had dismantled a "terrorist cell" of 10 people suspected of having links to the Islamic State jihadist group and planning attacks in the North African country.

The suspects, including a Frenchman, were arrested in several towns, it said, without giving further details on their identities.

Morocco has been on guard against deadly attacks like those claimed by IS in Tunisia last year that killed 59 foreign tourists.

Rabat says 152 "terrorist cells" have been busted since 2002, including 31 over the past three years with ties to jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

A study by the US-based Soufan Group said in December that at least 1,200 Moroccans had travelled to fight alongside IS in Iraq and Syria in the past 18 months.