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Jordan hotel bombing evacuated israelis first

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A number of Israelis staying at the Radisson were evacuated before the bombing by Jordanian security forces and escorted back to Israel due to ``a specific security alert,'' Haaretz reported on its Web site, without saying were it obtained the information. The Israeli foreign minister said that no Israeli tourists are known to have been injured in the blasts, it said.

Al-Qaeda Says It Carried Out Jordan Hotel Bombings (Update3)

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The Iraqi offshoot of al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for three hotel bombings yesterday that killed at least 56 people in Amman in Jordan's worst violence since 1970.

Jordanian authorities arrested several people and seized a number of vehicles in connection with the attacks, Jordan's official state news agency, Petra, said on its Web site, citing an unidentified security official. Neither the number of those detained nor their identities were provided.

At least 93 people were injured in the blasts and one man died today of his injuries in a hospital in Amman, Petra said. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of Iraq's al-Qaeda cell, said in a statement posted on the Internet that his followers carried out the attacks, Petra reported without providing further details.

The Radisson SAS hotel, the Hyatt Amman and the Days Inn hotels had been ``turned by the dictator of Jordan into a garden for the enemies of our religion, the Jews and the Crusaders,'' Agence France-Presse quoted the statement as saying.

King Hussein of Jordan in September 1970 moved to quash an attempt by Palestinian organizations to overthrow his monarchy. The ensuing battles in what was called ``Black September'' left hundreds dead or hurt.

Aqaba Attack

The last militant strike in the country was an Aug. 19 rocket attack targeting U.S. warships in the Red Sea port of Aqaba that was claimed by al-Qaeda-linked groups. A Jordanian soldier died of wounds sustained in that assault.

The attacks on the Amman hotels yesterday were carried out by people wearing explosive belts and, in one instance, involved a car that exploded at a security barrier, Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher told Cable News Network late yesterday.

Casualty figures show the dead included 15 Jordanians, five Iraqi nationals, three Chinese, a Saudi, a Palestinian and an Indonesian, while the bodies of 30 people have yet to be identified, according to AFP.

Four senior Palestinian officials died in the explosions, Palestinian officials who requested anonymity said. They were: Major General Bashir Nafeh, chief of military intelligence in the West Bank, Colonel Abed Allun, a senior member of the Preventive Security forces, Jihad Fatouh, the commercial attaché at the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo, and Mosab Khorma, deputy Chairman of Cairo-Amman Bank in the Palestinian territories.

UN Workers

Amman has become a staging base for aid operations in Iraq, which borders Jordan, a U.S. ally. About 750 United Nations workers are based in the city representing agencies such as the World Food Program and the UN Children's Fund, or UNICEF.

The attacks ``prove that the terrorism which rages in Iraq has also become a real threat to other countries, including those which have closed their eyes on what is going on in our country,'' AFP quoted Jawad al-Maliki, deputy leader of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari's Dawa party, as saying. ``What has happened in Jordan is a warning not only to Jordan but to all of our Arab brothers who must take our warnings seriously.''

Jordan's stock exchange and banks were closed today as the country's central bank ordered a day off, according to Petra. Jordan's land borders, closed after the bombings, were opened today amid ``stepped up security measures,'' Petra said.

``The fact that these are hotels that are frequented by Westerners and that Jordan has been involved in Iraq, training Iraqi security forces, says this is an al-Qaeda attack,'' Steve Cook, a Middle East analyst for the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, said yesterday. ``It has all the hallmarks of al- Qaeda's global struggle against the West and attempts to cow Arab countries that might be involved in Iraq.''

`Misled' Group

Jordan's King Abdullah II said a ``misled and misleading group'' was behind the attacks and his country's efforts to combat terrorism wouldn't be deterred by the bombings, Petra reported on its Web site.

The deadliest attack was at the Radisson, where a person wearing an explosives belt set off his bomb at a wedding reception, Major Bashir Daaja, head of media at Jordan's Public Security Department, said in a statement distributed by Petra.

A vehicle exploded outside the Days Inn after it tried to cross a security barrier, Muasher told CNN.

A number of Israelis staying at the Radisson were evacuated before the bombing by Jordanian security forces and escorted back to Israel due to ``a specific security alert,'' Haaretz reported on its Web site, without saying were it obtained the information. The Israeli foreign minister said that no Israeli tourists are known to have been injured in the blasts, it said.

Bush Reaction

U.S. President George W. Bush offered ``every possible form of cooperation in investigating these attacks and assisting in efforts to bring these terrorists to justice,'' White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in a statement released in Washington late yesterday.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who is traveling in the region, issued statements condemning the attacks. Annan, who was planning to visit the Jordanian capital today, dropped that stop from his trip, spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

In meetings with Saudi Arabian and Egyptian authorities, ``the Secretary General stressed the need for member states to adopt a comprehensive convention against terrorism as soon as possible,'' according to a UN statement issued late yesterday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The Hyatt explosion took place in the hotel's lobby, according to a statement issued by Chicago-based Hyatt Corp. The company said it had not yet been able to confirm how many of its guests were killed or hurt.

Guests Evacuated

Minneapolis-based Radisson Hotels & Resorts and Parsippany, New Jersey-based Days Inn Worldwide both issued statements late yesterday saying they are trying to confirm details and that guests have been evacuated.

``We understand now from our conversations with the local hotel management that four guests were injured, three seriously,'' Rich Roberts, a Days Inn spokesman, said in an interview. ``We have been told that no employees were hurt.''

The 260-room Radisson hotel in Amman describes its Royal Hall as ``the largest and most prestigious ballroom in Jordan'' for banquets and weddings, according to its Web site. The room can accommodate up to 2,000 guests.

The 316-room Grand Hyatt has restaurants serving Italian and Thai-Vietnamese cuisine and a lounge that features a fireplace and jazz music, according to descriptions and pictures on its Web site. Amman's Days Inn Hotel is a 10-story facility.

Al-Zarqawi, who has a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head, was condemned to death by Jordan in absentia in April for the 2002 murder of a U.S. diplomat in Amman. He had been freed from a Jordanian prison under a general amnesty by King Abdullah in 1999.

Last Updated: November 10, 2005 07:59 EST

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