The international community has strongly denounced a series of deadly suicide bombing attacks which left at least 39 people dead and scores of others wounded in Morocco's Atlantic port city of Casablanca.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Saturday condemned Friday's bomb attacks in the Moroccan tourist city of Casablanca and called for sustained campaign against international terrorism.
In a statement, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said Annan "utterly condemns" the attacks, especially "the deliberate targeting of civilians," he said.
"The callous fanaticism and intolerance of these acts is repugnant to all religions and to the great majority of humanity," Eckhard said.
European Commission President Romano Prodi also condemned the attack on Saturday. In a statement, he expressed his regret at "this futile attempt to hamper the development of a democratic Arab country."
"Terrorism is a dreadful phenomenon and this new wave of coordinated attacks is particularly preoccupying. The public opinion in Morocco as well as in Europe must not perceive this attack as a conflict between cultures and religions," Prodi said.
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Saturday offered condolences to Moroccan King Mohammed VI.
He said the Chinese government strongly condemns such terrorist acts and supports the efforts by the international community to strengthen cooperation in fighting terrorism.
US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz blamed the bombings on "terrorists" who he said wanted to block progress in the Arab world.
"That they should choose to attack Morocco tells something about their terrible motivation," Wolfowitz told reporters on Saturday during a brief visit to Macedonia.
"Morocco stands out in the Arab world as a country that is making significant strides towards democracy and I think the terrorists are opposed to progress," Wolfowitz said.
Condemning the attacks in Casablanca, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko linked them with similar ones in Chechnya.
"The tragedy in Casablanca was preceded by barbarous sorties in Chechnya and Saudi Arabia," he said, noting that "the handwriting of the terrorist acts is the same -- they use suicide bombers and their victims are innocent people."
"It has become clear that the international terrorist organization run by al Qaeda is trying to launch a counter-offense against the entire civilized world after the defeat in Afghanistan," he said.
The surging international terrorist activities strongly confirmed the need for the maximum consolidation efforts of the international community to efficiently and consistently eradicate the evil, which threatens the stability and security of all countries and peoples, said Yakovenko.
The French Foreign Ministry denounced the "ignoble" carnage and offered help in tracking down those responsible.
In a letter to Morocco's King Mohammed VI, French President Jacques Chirac sent "the most deep and sincere condolences and the sympathy of all French."
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw stated that "these horrific and barbarous attacks on civilians overnight in Casablanca demonstrated a callous disregard for all human life, regardless of nationality."
"I offer my deepest condolences to the families of those affected and can assure the Moroccan government that we will offer them every assistance," the foreign secretary said.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the German government strongly condemned the "criminal terrorist attacks."
"The authors and their accomplices should be found and judged before a tribunal," he said in a statement.
"This terrorist act reminds us that the international community must not relax its efforts in the fight against international terrorism," he said.
Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel sent condolences to Morocco, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said, while King Juan Carlos of Spain also expressed sympathy over the "brutal" attacks in a telegram to Morocco's King Mohammed VI.
Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said: "After the attacks committed in Israel, Chechnya and Saudi Arabia, this is a new series of ferocious and crazy acts that remind the international community to stay engaged in the battle against terrorism."
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar on Saturday pledged his country's support for the fight against terrorism. In messages of mourning sent to King Mohammed VI and Prime Minister Driss Yetu, the Spanish leader expressed "the deep sorrow and consternation of the Spanish people and government" and the "most severe condemnation of these terrorist crimes."
A statement of the Portuguese Foreign Businesses Ministry said the Portuguese government presented its sympathies to the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks and expressed its solidarity with the Moroccan people and government.
The Portuguese government also reaffirmed "the need to fight every form of terrorism."
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom also blamed international terror networks for the carnage.
"These attacks directly linked to international terrorism," Shalom told Israeli public radio by telephone from London.
"No state escapes them, and those who commit them seek to impose Islam on the entire world," Shalom said.
Arab League chief Amr Moussa on Saturday also condemned the suicide bombing attacks, saying that "the Casablanca bombings were aimed at undermining Morocco's security and stability, but such attempts will not succeed in realizing their ends."
"The Arab League is against all forms of terrorism," Moussa said, calling for more efforts to protect the interests, security and stability of Arab states.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher told the MENA news agency on Saturday that "the terrorist acts reflected criminal schemes against the interests of the Arab nation."
"Acting in compliance with the international law, justice and respect for human rights would help put an end to terrorism all over the world," he said.
He also stressed the need to make concerted efforts to deal with terrorism, recalling Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's call for holding an international anti-terror conference.
In a statement issued in the Saudi Red Sea port city of Jeddah, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) "strongly condemns these vicious acts carried out by people devoid of all values, morals and faiths, especially Islam which forbids the killing of innocent people."
"These heinous crimes, which aimed at terrifying innocents, killing them and destabilizing Morocco, will also increase the distortion of the image of Islam and fuel campaigns against it," said OIC Secretary General Abdelouhed Belkziz.
Extending sympathy, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said, "Terrorism is against the very basis of Islamic teachings and in contradiction with humanitarian principles. It is a crime and ominous act regardless of 'who or for what' such a heinous action has been perpetrated."
He said that the international community should take up humanitarian and ethical principles and avoid double standards and extremism to root out terrorism.
In a letter conveyed to Moroccan King Mohammed VI on Saturday, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said he strongly and unequivocally denounced those barbaric terrorist acts aimed at perturbing Morocco's stability and integrity.
Meanwhile, a Palestinian National Authority (PNA) spokesman also decried the blasts that targeted Moroccans and foreigners in the city, saying the Palestinians and their leadership have long suffered the state terrorism carried out by the Israeli army and are sympathized with Morocco in the incident.
Pakistan and Mexico also condemned the attacks.
(Xinhua News Agency May 19, 2003)