Reuters International

RABAT (Reuters) - Moroccan police have arrested six people suspected of belonging to a militant cell with ties to Islamic State, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

The cell had been active in Casablanca and the northern city of Tetouan and its neighbouring town of Martil, a ministry statement said.

The group was planning to send members to war zones and carry out attacks against Morocco when they return, the ministry said. It gave no further details.

Hundreds of fighters from Morocco and other Maghreb nations have joined Islamist militant forces in the conflict in Iraq and Syria, and also in Libya. Some are threatening to return to carry out attacks and recruit more jihadis in their home countries, security experts say.

Moroccan authorities believe around 1,500 Moroccan nationals have left to fight with armed groups in Syria and Iraq, including 220 who have returned home and been jailed and 286 have been killed.

Morocco, a Western ally against Islamist militancy, has suffered bomb attacks by suspected Islamist fighters, most recently in 2011.

(Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi)

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