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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Jordan hotel blasts kill dozens

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Jordan hotel blasts kill dozens Jordan hotel blasts kill dozens

At least 57 people have been killed and about 300 injured in explosions at hotels in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

The Grand Hyatt, Radisson and Days Inn hotels were hit in near-simultaneous blasts. Police suspect suicide bombers.

The hotels are popular with foreigners but most of the victims were Jordanian, many of them celebrating a wedding.

Jordan, a key US ally in the Middle East, has long been regarded as a prime target for attacks by radical Islamic militants, correspondents say.

"Three terrorist operations targeted the Radisson SAS, the Grand Hyatt and the Days Inn hotels," police spokesman Bashir al-Daajeh told Jordanian news agency Petra.

Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher told CNN television that two of the blasts appear to have been carried out by suicide bombers strapped with explosive, and the third by a suicide car bomb.

We thought it was fireworks for the wedding but I saw people falling to the ground
At the Radisson hotel

No details have emerged so far of the names or nationalities of the victims, but officials say most are thought to be Jordanian.

Many of the casualties are thought to have been among 250 guests at a wedding reception in the Radisson hotel.

"We thought it was fireworks for the wedding, but I saw people falling to the ground," said Ahmed, a wedding guest who did not give his surname.

"I saw blood. There were people killed. It was ugly."

No claim

The BBC's Caroline Hawley, who was staying at the Hyatt, says the device apparently went off in a bar in the lobby.

A favourite with businessmen and Westerners, the hotel was packed at the time.

Our correspondent says windows were blown out by the blast, and she saw several badly wounded people. Many of the injured were taken to hospital in taxis and private cars.

There was very little security apparent at the hotel prior to the blast, she adds.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but a Jordanian official said the attacks carried the trademark of al-Qaeda or those inspired by it.

'Heinous act'

Police have set up roadblocks around hotels and embassies, and Prime Minister Adnan Badra has ordered all schools and public offices to close on Thursday.

King Abdullah II said the deadly blasts were "terrorist" acts" and pledged that "justice will pursue the criminals".

A White House spokesman condemned the bombings as "a heinous act of terror".

UN chief Kofi Annan has postponed a scheduled visit to Jordan scheduled for Thursday.

The BBC's Jordan correspondent Jon Leyne says Jordanians had been expecting this for months.

Jordan is the main US ally in the Arab world, and King Abdullah has been planning a visit to the US - as well as to Israel and the West Bank, our correspondent says.

In the past few years, Amman has also become a base for Westerners who fly in and out of Iraq for work.

Are you in the area of the blast? Send us your eyewitness accounts and pictures.

Your comments

My Dad's cousin is the Radisson SAS hotel manager in Amman and as soon as I heard the breaking news on the BBC, I was completely and utterly shocked. My immediate reaction was to reach for the phone and to make sure that he and his family are fine. After a dozen or so attempts I managed to finally get through to him and thank god he and his family are ok. He tells me that the hotel's lobby is like a war zone and there are scores of people injured and many are dead. I never thought this could happen in a peaceful country like Jordan. My thoughts are with all those that have a lost a loved one tonight. Another terrorist strike and yet another innocent and unnecessary loss of life, the world has gone mad!!
Mustafa Alami, London, UK

My Dad is a native Jordanian but now a British citizen. He is in Amman now visiting family. It is a very scary time for us back here in the UK and for my family there.

Let us hope that the Americans are as forthcoming with aid and assistance to their ally, Jordan, as they are with aid and assistance to Israel and deliver this as quickly as they were ready to go to Iraq. Let them prove that Middle Eastern politics is not all to serve their interests...
Deana, Leeds/UK

My parents live in Amman, just round the corner from the Radisson SAS, which also happens to be on the same road as the Grand Hyatt. When I saw the news I quickly tried to get in touch to make sure they were ok. They did not feel the explosion, but they did hear the blast. Luckily the family is ok, but unfortunately that does not apply to those that lost their lives. My condolences go to all those who are affected. Very sad!
Moe, Luxembourg, Luxembourg

A group of 5 of us in Amman for a teachers' conference were staying at the Radisson - we went out for the day to Petra, remarking as we left this morning on the flower arrangements being set up in the lobby for a wedding there today. Returning from Petra, we found ourselves caught up in a traffic jam on the main highway, caused by a petrol tanker fire. It held us up for an hour, much to our irritation. When we arrived back at the hotel, the bomb had gone off shortly before, close to the bar where we had spent the previous evening and had been planning to spend this one. That tanker fire may have saved our lives tonight.
Gill, Manchester, UK

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