Morocco's King Hassan apparently escaped with his life today from an assassination attempt by mutinous army officers at his seaside palace during a celebration marking his 40th birthday.
Morocco's King Hassan apparently escaped with his life today from an assassination attempt by mutinous army officers at his seaside palace during a celebration marking his 40th birthday. Latest reports say that troops loyal to the King have foiled the attempted coup. A Moroccan newsagency reported that the King was still ruler. It was the latest, but seemingly most reliable report amid a day of confusion which at various times had the King overthrown, shot dead, or taken prisoner. There are reports that sporadic gunfire can be heard in parts of Rabat, but according to the newsagency the worst of the fighting is over. King Hassan himself is reported to have spoken by telephone to a radio station in Europe. During the Conversation he said that a total of 1,400 military men, mostly from an army school, had taken part in the attempted coup.
SYNOPSIS: King Hassan of Morocco arrives to review a military parade to mark the 14th anniversary of the Moroccan armed forces last year. Ironically, it was elements of the army which today nearly overthrew the King. Despite conflicting and sketchy reports it appears about 1,400 men from a military school near Rabat took part in the attempted coup. Eyewitnesses said that some 30 military trucks loaded with soldiers opened fire on the King's Palace with machine guns and mortars. Some 40 people were killed...but the King is reported to have escaped.
King Hassan has tried to play the role of a diplomat-King. Last year he met President Boumedienne of Algeria in an attempt to settle their differences over border claims. To a large extent the meeting was successful, but it caused some ill feeling among elements in Morocco who felt the country had full claim to rich iron ore deposits in the disputed land.
Reports from Rabat are still sketchy. But its reliably report that the coup was thwarted by guards around the palace who fought back the mutineers. King Hassan is reported to have told loyal officers that he had invested his Interior Minister General Mohammed Oufkir with full civil and military powers. It was the General who later issued a communique saying the situation throughout the provinces of the kingdom was calm. A Moroccan airline source said the airports were closed soon after the fighting began...but if as reported, the situation is returning to normal, this is certain to be changed.