(AFP) — Hundreds of people observed two minutes of silence on Monday in Norway in honour of two Scandinavian women hikers murdered in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains in December.
Standing in the cold with flags flying at half-mast at the University of South-Eastern Norway in the town of Bo, the participants gathered to remember 28-year-old Maren Ueland from Norway, and 24-year-old Dane Louisa Vesterager Jespersen. Both were both students there.
The two women were killed at an isolated hiking spot south of Marrakesh overnight December 16-17, where they were vacationing. Their bodies were found the following day.
The authorities have said they were beheaded and are calling the crime a “terrorist” act.
The university addressed the murders with students on Monday morning as classes resumed after the Christmas break.
“We talked with the students and tried not to understand what can’t be understood, but we tried to make it easier for the students to put words on what has happened,” Annette Bischoff, the head of the faculty where the two women were studying to be travel guides, told AFP.
“This is very difficult for all of us, especially for the students who lived and studied with them,” she said.
The Moroccan authorities have arrested a total of 22 people in connection with the murders. They include the four main suspects and a Spanish-Swiss man who had links to some of the suspects and who subscribed to “extremist ideology”, say Moroccan officials.
The main suspects belonged to a cell inspired by Islamic State group ideology, but none of the four had contact with IS members in Syria or Iraq, Morocco’s counter-terror chief Abdelhak Khiam told AFP.