Maren Ueland, left, and Louisa Vesterager Jespersen were found dead in a popular tourist area

The “bestial” murder of two young women in Morocco is being investigated as a terrorism attack, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said.

Three men were arrested on Thursday over the murder of Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark, and Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway.

The pair were found dead from knife wounds near a popular tourist spot on Monday.

At least one of the suspects has been linked to an Islamist extremist group.

One person had already been arrested on Monday, hours after the bodies of the two women were discovered with injuries to their necks.

Police also supplied photos of the three other suspects, prompting a 72-hour manhunt. Moroccan news outlet 2M said they were shepherds, and had been arrested in the city of Marrakesh on Thursday morning.

After the prime minister’s statement, Denmark’s PET intelligence agency said it was investigating a video circulating online, which appeared to show one of the two women being murdered.

In the video, the words “this is in revenge for our brothers in Hajin” are heard, a reference to a stronghold of so-called Islamic State in eastern Syria that was seized by US-backed forces earlier this week.

“We cannot say anything at this point about the video’s authenticity,” PET said, contradicting earlier reports that it had been verified.

Reuters news agency quoted a police source as saying that the video appeared to have been filmed in a different place from where the bodies were found.

“We do not know the circumstances, but there are many indications that the cruel killing may be a terrorist act,” Mr Rasmussen said on Thursday.

Ms Jespersen and Ms Ueland had travelled together to Morocco for a month-long holiday on 9 December, including a trip in the Atlas Mountains.

Moroccan police released a photo of the three suspects

They had been hiking in area near Imil, close to North Africa’s highest mountain peak Mount Toubkal – an area popular with hikers and climbers. They were found dead inside the tent they shared.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg decried the “brutal and meaningless attack on innocent people”, and said she had trust in the Moroccan authorities to find those responsible.

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