Al Qaeda admite autoría de atentados simultáneos en Amán

AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) — Al Qaeda in Iraq, a group led by wanted militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is claiming responsibility for three suicide bombings in hotels in Amman, Jordan, according to a posting on a Web site Thursday.
At least 57 people were killed in the attacks Wednesday at the Grand Hyatt, Radisson and Days Inn hotels. Another 150 people were wounded.
The claim was made on a Web site used by the group. Its authenticity cannot be verified by CNN.
A Jordanian official earlier had said al-Zarqawi was a «prime suspect» in the terror bombings
Several of those killed in the hotel blasts were Palestinian officials.
The largest of the three bombings targeted a wedding celebration inside a hotel banquet room.
Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher said that blast, at the Radisson, was set off by a suicide bomber wearing a belt packed with explosives.
«Most of the casualties occurred at that wedding party. And most of them, if not all, were Jordanian,» he told CNN.
The blasts occurred sequentially at the Radisson, Grand Hyatt and Days Inn hotels between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. (2 p.m. -3 p.m. ET) Wednesday. The three international hotels are located within a few hundred yards of each other.
The blast inside the Grand Hyatt also appeared to have been caused by a bomber wearing an explosive belt, he said.
The Days Inn blast occurred when a car attempted to cross a security barrier, could not, and exploded outside the hotel, he said.
Randa Jaaqoub told CNN she was in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt with her fiance when that blast occurred.
«Everything just exploded, and we had fire and smoke all over,» the Jordanian American from Chicago said. «We saw the bodies and blood all over.»
Though security forces sealed off the three hotels almost immediately after the attacks, a reporter for the Jordanian Times, Rana Husseini, gained entrance to the Radisson about 20 minutes after the explosion there.
The lobby and wedding hall were «totally destroyed,» she said, with shattered glass all over the floor.
«There were tables and chairs turned over, there was blood on the chairs, it was really a horrific scene.» (Watch eyewitness accounts — 2:46)
The groom said the blast took place as he and his fiance were entering the wedding hall. He lost as many as 10 of his relatives, including his father, he said. No Westerners were at the party, he said.
«This is not Islam,» he said. «This is a terrorist fighting our capital.»
Video from the scene showed hundreds of police and emergency officials cordoning off the area around the hotels. Inside the Radisson, a hole was blown into the ceiling of a ballroom and tables and chairs were strewn across the room.
Dozens of ambulances lined up outside the hotels, loaded up and sped off, their sirens wailing and lighting up the night.
An emergency Cabinet meeting was convened shortly after the explosions.
«This is something that Jordan is not used to,» Muasher said, taking a break from the meeting. «Obviously, we are not happy about what happened and we are going to take whatever measures we can to guard against these terrorist activities.»
Muasher pointed out then that the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi, the most-wanted terrorist in Iraq, was among the suspects.
«Obviously, he’s a prime suspect,» Muasher said. (Watch a report on al-Zarqawi suspected — 2:09)
Jordanian King Abdullah II issued a statement condemning the attacks and saying that Jordan «will be resilient.»
Karim Kawar, the Jordanian ambassador to the United States, said the attacks have «come as a shock to all of us.»
«We try to be as vigilant as possible but, at the end of the day, we’re all vulnerable to such attacks,» he said in Washington.
In a written statement, Jordanian House Speaker Abdel Hadi Majali called the blasts «a criminal terrorist act.»
Asked whether al Qaeda may have been behind them, he said, «There is definitely an organization behind these attacks. Al Qaeda tried before and we foiled some attacks and this could be one of those times when they were able to bypass our security forces.»
Palestinian officials among dead
Jordanian Embassy officials in Washington said the blasts came without warning, and no Jordanian government officials were among the casualties.
Officials from other governments, however, were among the dead. Four Palestinians, including Maj. Gen. Bashir Nafeh, head of Palestinian military intelligence, died in the blast at the Grand Hyatt, according to chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat. Also killed was Col. Abed Allun; Jihad Fattouh, the brother of the Palestinian parliament speaker; and Mosab Khoma, Erakat said. The four were on their way back from Cairo, Egypt, he said, adding that he condemned the attack in the strongest terms possible.
In addition, three Chinese were killed and one wounded in the attacks, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, which cited a press release on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Web site. They were members of a delegation from China’s University of National Defense and were staying at one of the hotels, according to the report. Which hotel was not specified.
Jordanian Prime Minister Adnan Badran told Jordanian television that government offices and schools would be closed Thursday.
‘Cowardly’ attacks condemned
Though the hotels cater to international travelers, it was not clear whether they were targeted. The Hyatt is the most expensive, followed by the Radisson and then the Days Inn, but all three are commonly used by Jordanians, said a Westerner who has lived in Jordan for more than a year.
In Washington, a spokesman for the White House said the administration knew of no U.S. casualties.
U.S. President George W. Bush called the attacks «cowardly» and «barbaric.»
The State Department had issued no recent travel warnings for Americans visiting Jordan.
The Radisson Hotel was the target of a 1999 plot prior to the millennium celebrations, but Jordanian law enforcement broke up the plot.
After Wednesday’s attack, Radisson said in a statement: «We are saddened by this tragic incident and are mobilizing to clarify the facts and assist those who have been impacted.»
Hyatt said its management team is «working to assure the safety and relocation of guests,» given that authorities had evacuated the targeted hotels.
Days Inn issued a statement saying four of its guests were wounded, three of them seriously, but no one had died.
Jordan, considered a key Arab ally of the United States, helps train Iraqi troops and hosts the headquarters of international aid agencies that pulled relief workers out of Iraq as the insurgency deepened there.
It is also the homeland of al-Zarqawi, the wanted terrorist in Iraq who has a $25 million reward posted for his head.
In August, al-Zarqawi’s group claimed responsibility for rocket attacks that targeted but missed two U.S. warships in the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba.
Jordanian authorities said the attackers kept insurgent leaders in Iraq informed of their progress.

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