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1971: Death for Moroccan rebel leaders
Ten army officers involved in an aborted coup in Morocco have been executed.

Four generals, five colonels and one major faced a firing squad without trial or court martial less than 72 hours after they had led a surprise attack.

About 250 rebels - mainly from the Ahermoumou cadet training school - stormed the royal palace at Sikharat where King Hassan II was hosting a grand reception for his 42nd birthday on Saturday.

Ten miles away there were successful assaults on Rabat radio, the Interior Ministry and the Army headquarters.

Dissident soldiers had claimed to have seized power and killed the King. But the Moroccan news agency later confirmed he was unharmed as loyalist troops sealed off government buildings and patrolled Rabat's streets in tanks.

Dozens killed

A total of 92 people were killed, including Belgian ambassador Marcel Dupret. The King's brother, Moulay Abdullah, was among the 133 injured.

The coup leaders were shot in the courtyard of a military barracks in Rabat this morning, witnessed by military officers, who spat on the corpses, and Moroccan journalists.

King Hassan was at the state funeral for his supporters killed at the summer palace in the two-and-a-half hour gun battle there.

Among the victims were the Minister of Justice Muhammed Lazrak, the Minister of Tourism Ahmed Bahnini and the King's 80-year-old surgeon.

A further four generals and four colonels who had been loyal were also killed and the Moroccan authorities - under the temporary direction of General Muhammed Oufkir - are keen to stabilise the military as quickly as possible.

In a press conference today, the King identified the leaders of the coup and said the 1,400 rebels involved had been killed or rounded up.

He dismissed the challenge to his authority, saying, "It was all very under-developed," and he pointed to foreign interference as 600 Moroccans had attempted to renew their passports in Cairo on the day of the attack.

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Soldiers guard the coffins at the state funeral
Victims of the attempted coup had a state funeral - while the accused faced a firing squad


In Context
Many believed the rebels did not intend to kill the King but simply wanted to reform the political system.

General Muhammed Medbouh was widely believed to have led the coup and had spoken out against corruption. He was accidentally killed by his own forces.

Since inheriting the crown in 1961 King Hassan II had continued the pro-western, personal rule of his father. He was also a devout Muslim.

From 1946 to 1969 Morocco received more aid from the US than anywhere else in Africa - 304m.

There was a rising tide of Arab nationalism in the region, which had seen Egypt, Iraq, Yemen and Libya succumb to revolution in the past 20 years.

The King survived several assassination attempts after Morocco gained independence from France in the early 1950s.

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