Al-Qa'ida claim responsibility for Jordan hotel bombings

The al-Qa'ida claim, which could not be independently verified, linked the deadly blasts to the war in Iraq, calling Amman the "backyard garden" for US operations. Jordan became a target because it was "a backyard garden for the enemies of the religion, Jews and crusaders...a filthy place for the traitors...and a centre for prostitution."

The claim of responsibility, signed in the name of the spokesman for al-Qa'ida in Iraq, said the attacks put the United States on notice that the "backyard camp for the crusader army is now in the range of fire of the holy warriors.

The attacks ­ two of which were on upper-range hotels frequented by foreign tourists, businessmen and international officials ­ ended several years in which, despite a series of foiled bombings, the Jordanian capital had seemed almost immune from the violence in the region surrounding it.

The almost simultaneous bombings shortly before 9pm came at the Grand Hyatt, the Radisson SAS, which was popular with Israelis and many other international tourists, and the Days Inn hotel.

The Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister, Marwan Muasher, said that 57 had been killed in the blasts. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, held responsible for a series of suicide bombings and kidnappings in Iraq, was identified as a key suspect by both Mr Muasher and an unnamed US counter-terrorism official.

The claims are perhaps inevitable given al-Zarqawi's origins in Jordan and the fact the attacks bore the hallmarks of others attributed to him.

Jordanian police spokesman Major Bashir al-Da'aja said: "There were three terrorist attacks on the Grand Hyatt, Radisson SAS and Days Inn hotels and it is believed that the blasts were suicide bombings."

Jordan's interior minister, Awni Yarfas, who was at the Radisson hotel, told reporters: "There were explosions in the Hyatt and the Radisson ... Yes, they were bombs."

What appears to have been the first bomb, at 8:50pm local time, struck the Grand Hyatt, completely shattering the stone entrance. One reporter said he saw at least seven bodies removed from the hotel and many more wounded carried out on stretchers.

At the Radisson, where up to 250 people had been attending a wedding reception, at least five were killed and at least 20 wounded. Police sources told Reuters that the blast had been caused by a bomb placed in a false ceiling. Security sources speculated that a nearby bar was the target, rather than the wedding party itself.

The country's King Abdullah II condemned the bombings and said "justice will pursue the criminals".

The King, who was on an official visit to Kazakhstan, cut short his trip and started back for home last night after issuing a statement carried by the official Jordanian news agency Petra which described the attacks as " criminal acts committed by a deviant and misleading bunch" which would not sway Jordan from continuing "its battle against terrorism".

The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, cancelled a planned visit to Jordan today because of the bombings.

Police set up roadblocks round the hotels, causing traffic chaos in the normally busy streets of Amman. In a unconfirmed report, the US television network CNN quoted an eyewitness as saying the Jordanian prime minister's car was at the Grand Hyatt at the time of the blast.

One of the wedding guests at the Radisson, who gave his name only as Ahmed said: "We thought it was fireworks for the wedding but I saw people falling to the ground. I saw blood. There were people killed. It was ugly."

An American businessman who also declined to give his name said he was at the Grand Hyatt when the explosion occurred, and that a "bomb went off in the lobby". A British guest at the same hotel said: "It was a miracle that we made it out without a scratch."

The capital itself has long seemed one of the most peaceful in the Arab world, but militants fired three Katyusha rockets at a Navy ship docked at Aqaba this August, narrowly missing it and killing a Jordanian soldier. Jordanian officials blamed that attack on al-Qa'ida elements from Iraq.

Before the US invasion of Iraq, Amman attracted anti-Saddam exiles. Many other Iraqis have taken refuge there since the collapse of the dictator's regime.

Despite a fall-off in tourism since the beginning of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Jordan has striven to exploit exceptional tourist attractions including the ancient Nabatean city of Petra, the desert landscape of Wadi Rum, the Red Sea resort of Aqaba the Byzantine mosaics of Madaba, and the Roman forum and amphitheatre of Amman.

While there were no immediate reports of Israeli casualties, Israel arranged a rare night-time opening of the Allenby Bridge across the Jordan river to allow tourists to return to Israel.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most