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Al-Qaida in Iraq Claims Four Iraqis Carried Out Jordan Attacks

  • Jim Teeple

Jordanian authorities say they cannot confirm a claim by the terrorist group al-Qaida in Iraq that four suicide bombers, including a woman, carried out Wednesday's bombings in Amman that killed 57 people and wounded more than 100 others. Authorities say they continue to make arrests in the case, which was the worst terrorist attack in Jordanian history.

Several thousand people marched through the narrow streets of downtown Amman following Friday prayers, chanting, "al-Zarqarwi you are a criminal!" The terrorist group al-Qaida in Iraq, led by Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has claimed responsibility for the three attacks on hotels in Amman.

On Friday, the group issued an Internet posting saying two of the bombers were a husband and wife couple. At a news conference Friday afternoon, Jordan's deputy prime minister, Marwan Muasher, said Jordanian authorities were evaluating the claims, but could not confirm them.

"We have seen a posting today that suggested that four people carried out the operation, including a woman," he said. "So far, our information suggests that the three suicide bombers were men who blew themselves up. We cannot confirm they were accompanied by a woman, and we also cannot confirm the nationalities of these attackers. This is still under investigation."

Jordan's deputy prime minister says authorities have arrested both Jordanians and foreigners in the investigation. Witnesses say at least one of the bombers had asked a question before blowing himself up, and that he had a strong Iraqi accent.

Meanwhile, funerals for the victims of the bombings continued on Friday, and those injured struggled to recover.

In Jordan Hospital, Bashar al-Khaled prepared to leave to go to the funeral of his father, who was killed while attending the wedding of another son, Ashraf, at the Radisson hotel, where the wedding party was gathering when the bomb exploded.

"I just heard a bang, saw people running, and I heard people screaming," he said. "I saw shattered glass, and I looked to the hall and saw the roof falling down on people. And then I was looking for my family, to check and see how my family was. I saw everyone was fine except my Dad. I saw him laying just near the door, outside the door of the hall, and he was bleeding so much. I tried with some guys to take him, and I brought him to the hospital."

Basher al-Khaled's father died soon after he reached Jordan Hospital. Hospital Director Dr. Abdallah Basheer says the bombs were clearly designed to kill as many people as possible.

"It was well designed," he said. "This was something specialized to injure many organs, and to create mortalities and morbidities. It was not an elementary weapon. There were fragments in the bodies to injure many elements in the body."

At his news conference on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher said authorities are rushing to increase security at many public places in the capital, including major hotels and government ministries. As part of that effort, Mr. Muasher said, his country will also work against what he described as a culture in the region that attempts to justify terrorism for whatever cause. Wednesday's attacks, he says, are a warning to all of what any toleration of terrorism can lead to.