TWO Scandinavian backpackers were butchered by suspected ISIS terrorists in Morocco as cops investigate the monsters behind a gruesome beheading video.
Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and Maren Ueland, 28, were knifed and decapitated on a hiking holiday after their killers are said to have laid in wait just 600 yards away.
CCTV footage reportedly shows a group of men approaching the campsite where they pitched a camp close to the women the night before their bodies were discovered.
Maren, from Norway, and Danish Louisa had been enjoying a month-long holiday as they set up camp near the village of Imlil, a popular tourist destination at the foot of Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa.
The following morning, French hikers walking in the area on Monday morning found one of the victims dead inside her tent and another lying outside.
One had been beheaded and the second had sustained a serious throat wound.
What we know so far…
- Tourists Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark, and Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway, were killed in their tents as they camped in a mountainous area of Morocco.
- It’s thought that the suspects may have stalked the pair before attacking them while they slept after setting up camp near Imlil, a popular tourist destination at the foot of Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa.
- Locals found their butchered bodies on Monday as police launched a manhunt for the suspects.
- Cops arrested one man on Tuesday and a further three men on Thursday morning.
- None of the suspects, all from Morocco, have yet been named publicly. But prosecutors have identified all four.
- Investigators in Morocco, Norway and Denmark are still probing whether a horrific video circulating on social media and apparently recording their deaths is genuine.
- All four suspects have sworn allegiance to ISIS, according to a source quoted in Norwegian newspaper vg.no.
- Moroccan authorities are treating the murders as a terrorist act.
- In the unverified video, the alleged murderers are heard linking the brutality of their act Western bombings in Syria.
- The murdered students were outdoor activities and cultural guidance students and were on a month-long, private holiday in Morocco.
Horrifying footage seen by the Sun Online and purporting to record the women’s deaths shows a woman screaming while a man cuts her neck with what appears to be a kitchen knife.
In the video circulating on social media the perpetrators are heard linking the brutality of the video’s contents to Western bombings in Syria, saying: “This is for Syria, here are the heads of your Gods.”
All four suspects have sworn allegiance to ISIS, according to a source quoted in Norwegian newspaper vg.no.
These reports back up the Rabat public prosecutor’s office statement yesterday that the only captured suspect has affiliations to a terrorist group.
State television 2M has also reported on its website that authorities are treating the murders as a terrorist act.
The stunned French tourists who discovered the bodies alerted police, who arrested one suspect on Tuesday and tracked down a further three men this morning after a manhunt.
Hotel workers in the Moroccan capital claimed Maren and Louisa were staying with three other girls and were spotted with local men before they set off on their mountain trek.
While locals claim that three “homeless” men were spotted camping near the two women.
One hotelier said: “Three homeless men came from Marrakech and pitched a tent right next to the girls’ tent. The men were not from round here.”
Cops have released pictures of the three of the four suspects linked to the murder but have not yet confirmed their names.
'We found the bodies… it was horrible'
One woman has told how she and her girlfriend found the butchered bodies while they were enjoying an early morning hike. She told Norwegian news outlet vg.no:
‘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,
‘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.’
Morten Bøås at the Norwegian Department of Foreign Affairs believes the killings were unlikely to be the work of more established terrorist groups.
He told aftenposten.no that he thought the group of men may have been inspired by ISIS or radicalised through the web.
Moroccan authorities are yet to publish the names of the four suspects, but released mugshots of three of them while tracing them.
It’s thought that the men may have stalked the pair before attacking them while they slept on Monday.
Earlier reports claimed police were probing a possible sexual motive for the crime – having ruled out robbery because none of the victims’ belongings were missing.
They allegedly fled leaving behind their tent – where cops found the forgotten ID of one of the arrested men.
It led officers to him and the three men that have now all been held.
A source told Morocco World News: “The suspects were camping in the same area that the murder took place.
“Witnesses saw the group at night as they were heading to the camp area.”
Maren’s mum told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that her daughter was “warm and engaged”.
She said: “Her first priority was safety. The girls had taken all the precautionary measures before embarking on this trip.”
Both were students of “outdoor activities and cultural guidance” at the University of Southeastern Norway and attended a campus in Boe, west of Oslo.
On its home page the university confirmed the women had been on a “month-long, private holiday in Morocco”, adding: “Our thoughts go to the families.”
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The friends had reportedly set up a camp near Imlil, a popular tourist destination at the foot of Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa.
A spokesman for the Moroccan police, Boubker Sabik, told the news site Barlamane that the police can not confirm whether the video actually shows the double murder, but that the video is now being investigated.
Authorities in Denmark and Norway are also investigating whether the video is genuine.
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