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Jordanians Take to the Streets, Protest Terrorism

Jordanians reacted with shock, anger and defiance Thursday to terrorist attacks on Wednesday that left 56 people dead and more than 100 others wounded. Thousands took to the streets on Thursday to protest the attacks.

Thousands of Jordanians marched through the streets of the capital on Thursday shouting defiance and anger at the attacks that struck at the heart of the capital on Wednesday.

There was little sign of physical destruction at the three hotels where the attacks took place. A heavy police presence kept onlookers well away. Subdued crowds stood in the parking lots of the buildings, waiting to join marchers as they walked through the city.

The Amman demonstrations were organized by Jordan's 14 professional groups and trade unions. Among the participants were Islamic groups and leftist political organizations, encompassing a wide range Jordanians from many walks of life.

The attacks Wednesday night struck at the heart of upscale Amman, and many in that community such as this young banker, Khalil, who declined to give his last name voiced defiance.

"If you are hearing what they are saying they are all saying we are not afraid," he said. "This is not the beginning of a new phase, this is just an act of aggression on Jordan that will not be repeated."

Jordanian authorities have pledged to hunt down the members of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's "al-Qaida in Iraq" terrorist organization, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Authorities say a number of suspects have been rounded up, but at a press conference Thursday, Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister, Marwan Muasher declined to give details about the investigation.

"I will not talk in details about arrests so far," he said. "There are a number of leads but it would not be useful for me to comment on them." The investigation is still ongoing, and it would not be wise for me to comment on details. I will any further at this time."

In Washington, President Bush phoned King Abdullah to extend his condolences and offer assistance and support against terrorists.

More than 30 Jordanians were killed in the attacks, and some like like Hala Odat, said the bombings had caused some fear, but she said the throngs of people crowding the streets on Thursday had made people feel stronger.

"I am not sure about everyone. There is a bit of fear," she said. "But I think people are getting stronger since we are all uniting into a family now. It is going to be easier when we are together."

Jordanians also marched in other cities around the country and there was a heavy police and army presence on major highways across the country.