Moroccans pay homage to slain Scandinavian hikers

The grisly killings have shaken Morocco, where tourism is a cornerstone of the economy.

This picture taken on 21 December 2018 shows a combo photo murdered Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen (L) and Nowegian Maren Ueland placed on top of flowers and between the flags of Morocco and Norway as Moroccans pay tribute to the Scandinavian victims. Picture: AFP.

RABAT - Crowds of Moroccans gathered Saturday to mourn two Scandinavian hikers brutally murdered by suspected jihadists in the High Atlas Mountains.

Hundreds of people paid tribute to Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland outside the embassies of their homelands in the capital Rabat.

Signs laid out or put by those gathered read “RIP Maren and Louisa”, “Terrorism has no religion or nationality” and “Sorry”.

A minute of silence was held in the presence of diplomats from Denmark and Norway.

In the southern village of Imlil, near where the bodies of the two hikers were found, hundreds of people paid their respects, while dozens more laid flowers and lit candles in tourist hub city Marrakesh.

The grisly killings have shaken Morocco, where tourism is a cornerstone of the economy.

The bodies of the two women were found Monday after they had pitched their tent at an isolated mountain site around two hours’ walk from Imlil.

One of them was beheaded, according to a source close to the investigation.

Thirteen people have been detained across the country in connection with the killings, which the authorities have classified as a “terrorist act”.

The Danish and Norwegian ambassadors to Morocco have thanked the public and authorities in the country for their support and messages of condolence.