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Zarqawi Claims Jordan Blasts, World Condemns
AMMAN, November10 , 2005 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – World countries Thursday, November10 , strongly condemned Jordan's triple suicide attacks that left 57 people killed and hundreds injured, with Al-Qaeda's Iraq branch claiming responsibility for the terrorist blasts.
Wednesday's late evening attacks on Jordan, one of the closest US allies in the Middle East, targeted the luxury Radisson SAS, Grand Hyatt and Days Inn hotels, which are usually packed with foreigners.
In the deadliest blast, a suicide bomber blew himself up just after9 :00 pm in a hotel ballroom at the Radisson SAS while a Jordanian wedding reception was in full swing.
Shortly afterwards, a suicide bomber also detonated his charge at the entrance of the Grand Hyatt and a suicide car bomber attacked the three-star Days Inn in the Rabiyeh neighborhood where the Israeli embassy is located.
Jordanian authorities said 57 people were killed in the attacks but the Doha-based Al-Jazeera channel quoted Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Al-Muasher as saying that the death toll of the attacks reached67 .
Authorities, however, said they did not yet have details on all the nationalities.
But China said Thursday that three Chinese nationals were killed and one was wounded in the attacks.
Among those killed in the attacks was also Major General Bashir Nafie, commander of Palestinian Special Forces and two other senior Palestinian security officials.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan also "strongly condemned" the attacks, saying he has delayed a planned visit to Jordan.
"We do not want to be a burden on the Jordanian authorities 12 hours after they've had this massive bombing," said spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Jordan was a last-minute addition to Annan's current round of visits that began in Paris and took him to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The UN Security Council is due to hold a special session Thursday to condemn the deadly attacks.
US President George W. Bush also said he condemned "in the strongest possible terms the vicious terrorist attacks against innocent civilians in Amman," according to CNN.
"Today's terrorist bombings in Amman were cowardly attacks on innocent Jordanians and their guests," Bush said in a White House statement Wednesday.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Amman attacks were a "great tragedy," Agence France Presse (AFP) said.
"Jordan has of course been a tremendous fighter and a tremendous ally in the war on terrorism," she said, reaffirming the close relationship that has grown between Amman and Washington.
Jordan's King Abdullah II said the deadly blasts were "terrorist acts" and pledged that "justice will pursue the criminals."
"The terrorist attacks that targeted three hotels in Amman are criminal acts carried out by terrorist groups," the king, who is visiting Kazakhstan, said in a statement released by the royal court.
Ireland and France also expressed shock and sympathy with Jordan following the attacks.
"While the facts are not yet clear, I am appalled by these reports. It seems all too likely that this was a terrorist attack aimed at killing and maiming entirely innocent people," said Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern.
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin offered his "deep sympathy... to the families and all the Jordanian people".
Syria also denounced the attacks, expressing solidarity with the kingdom.
"Syria vigorously condemns these attacks and expresses its total solidarity with Jordan," a Syrian foreign affairs official was quoted as saying by the official SANA news agency.
"We have painfully learned the news that attacks aimed at hotels lead to the deaths of innocent people."
Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood strongly condemned the "terrorist" attacks, saying the blasts went against the merciful teachings of Islam.
"These are criminal and terrorist acts which no Muslim can accept and which go against our religion," the head of the Brotherhood, Abdel Majid Zuneibat said after the attacks.
"The enemies of the nation will only profit from this crime," Zuneibat said in a statement carried on state-run Petra news agency.
On Thursday, schools, businesses and government offices closed as the stunned kingdom prepared to bury the victims. Jordan closed its borders in an effort to stop any suspects fleeing, Reuters said.
Police and some military units threw up roadblocks around hotels and embassies in the Jordanian capital.
"I was eating with friends in the restaurant next to the bar when I saw a huge ball of fire shoot up to the ceiling and then everything went black," said a French UN official, who was at the Hyatt but who declined to be identified.
"It caused absolute devastation."
The explosion at the Radisson tore through a banqueting room where about 250 people were attending a wedding reception, witnesses said.
Al-Qaeda group of Jordanian-born Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the Wednesday's attacks.
"Our good lions launched ... a new raid ... in Amman," Zarqawi's Al-Qaeda Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers said on the statement.
"After having studied and monitored the objectives, the sites of the hotels were chosen," said the statement, which could not be authenticated, according to AFP.
The hotels "have been turned by the dictator of Jordan (King Abdullah II) into a back garden for the enemies of (our) religion, the Jews and the Crusaders," it said.
The hotels were "filthy entertainment centers for the traitors and apostates of the umma (Islamic nation), and a safe haven for the infidel (US) intelligence services, which are leading their conspiracy against the Muslims from there.
"Despite the security measures that the traitor (Abdullah), the son of the traitor (the late King Hussein), to protect such (sites) ... the soldiers of Al-Qaeda succeeded in reaching their objectives and fulfilling them," it said.
Zarqawi, who comes from the poor town of Zarqa outside Amman, was jailed by Jordan in 1996 but freed under amnesty by King Abdullah when he assumed the throne three years later.
Jordan, one of the most stable countries in the Middle East, is one of only three Arab states to have diplomatic relations with Israel but also is the home country of Iraq's most wanted man Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.
The Jordanian authorities have in the past broken up a number of Al-Qaeda linked networks suspected of plotting attacks against US and other Western targets in Jordan.
Zarqawi, who has a 25 million dollar bounty on his head, was condemned to death in absentia in April for the 2002 murder of a US diplomat in Amman.
The last apparently militant strike in Jordan was rocket attack in August targeting US warships in the Red Sea port of Aqaba that the authorities blamed on the Al-Qaeda group led by Zarqawi.
The rockets missed two US warships docked in the port but one hit a warehouse killing a Jordanian soldier while another landed across the border in the neighboring Israeli resort of Eilat.