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Suicide Bombers Kill 57 in Jordan


Bomb blasts have rocked three international hotels in the Jordanian capital, Amman Wednesday, killing at least 57 people and wounding more than 100.

The blasts hit Amman almost simultaneously around nine o'clock at night. They targeted the Grand Hyatt, Radisson and Days Inn hotels.

Police spokesmen told reporters they were suicide bombings. Security sources say the attacks bear the hallmarks of al-Qaida.

The deputy prime minister told CNN that two of the bombers appeared to be wearing suicide vests and the other drove a suicide car bomb. Reports from Amman say most of the damage appears to be inside the hotels, not outside.

All three hotels are frequented by Westerners, but Jordanian authorities say most of the dead and wounded are Jordanians.

The bomb at the Radisson exploded in a banquet hall in the middle of a wedding reception.

Jordan's King Abdullah says they were criminal acts carried out by terrorists, targeting innocent civilians. The king has cut short a visit to Kazakhstan and headed home after the bombings.

After the blasts, Jordanian police and army units sealed off the neighborhoods surrounding the hotels. The Grand Hyatt and Radisson are in the Jabal Amman area, which is also home to several other five-star hotels and many embassies. The Days Inn is in the Rabiyeh neighborhood, near the Israeli embassy.

One report from the French news agency says Jordan has closed its land borders indefinitely.

This is by far the most deadly terrorist attack in Jordan's recent history. Over the past few years, Jordanian authorities say they have broken up a number of terrorist cells and foiled several planned terrorist attacks. In August, a rocket attack in the Red Sea port of Aqaba narrowly missed two U.S. warships docked there. One missile struck a nearby military warehouse, killing a Jordanian soldier.

Jordan is one of the United States' key allies in the Middle East. It has become the main gateway to Iraq for foreign workers, and is also a key shipping hub.

Many former members of Saddam Hussein's family and regime have settled in Jordan since the U.S. toppled Saddam in 2003. Other wealthy Iraqis have also fled to Jordan to escape the ongoing violence in their home country.

Jordan is also the home country of Iraq's most wanted insurgent, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He is believed to be the mastermind behind many suicide attacks in Iraq on both U.S. and civilian targets. His group claimed responsibility for the Aqaba rocket attack. He has been sentenced to death in absentia for the 2002 assassination of a U.S. diplomat in Amman.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan was scheduled to visit Jordan on his current tour of the Middle East, but he has canceled the visit

The United Nations has based its Iraq operations in Jordan since the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad two years ago, which killed 22 U.N. employees.

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