09:31 GMT +315 October 2019
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    In this photo provided by Moroccan news channel 2M and taken on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, a security team is seen at the area where the bodies of two Scandinavian women tourists were found dead, near Imlil in the High Atlas mountains, Morocco

    UK Envoy Under Fire for Saying Girls' Killing 'Doesn't Change Beauty of Morocco'

    © AP Photo / 2M
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    Two backpackers, 28-year-old Maren Ueland from Norway and 24-year-old Louisa Vesterager Jespersen from Denmark, were brutally murdered while they were hiking in the Atlas Mountains. Over a dozen suspects have been arrested, several of them even pledged allegiance to Daesh* in a video now circulating on social media.

    Like other public figures, the UK Ambassador to Morocco Thomas Reilly took to Twitter to express his condolences and dismay over the killing of the young tourists from Scandinavia, one of whom was beheaded. However, his attempt to call for resistance in face of terrorism and not to “over-react” has prompted a storm of outraged comments.

    ​Some reacted sarcastically, slamming the diplomat’s urge not to overreact.

    ​Others used even stronger condemnation.

    ​Others lambasted him for “declaring that jihadists are not motivated by Islamic religion”.

    ​There were those who sided with Reilly, condemning the crime and saying it is neither Islam, nor Moroccan culture.

    ​Ueland and Jespersen were killed near a path up to peak Toubkal, a popular hiking destination in Morocco. One of the victims was beheaded, while another sustained serious neck wounds. The case is being investigated as a terrorist act.

    A video of the decapitation of one of the girls emerged online, with a knife-wielding perpetrator shouting “It’s Allah’s will” and “This is revenge for our brothers in Hajin in Syria. These are your heads, enemy of God", referring to the Daesh stronghold in the province of Deir ez-Zor captured by US-backed forces earlier this week. Danish intelligence services have authenticated the extremely graphic footage.

    READ MORE: Calls for Death Penalty After Video of Beheaded Scandinavian Girl Shocks Morocco

    Moroccan police have already arrested 13 suspects in the killing. According to the country’s authorities, four of them had pledged allegiance to Daesh* in a video now circulating on social media. While the authenticity of the video is yet to be confirmed, no group has claimed responsibility for the murder.

    Daesh, also known as ISIS/IS/Islamic State, is a terrorist organisation outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

    Related:

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    Calls for Death Penalty After Video of Beheaded Scandinavian Girl Shocks Morocco
    Morocco Arrests Three Suspects in Killing of Scandinavian Tourists
    Norwegian, Danish Female Hikers Reportedly Meet Violent Death in Morocco
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