53 killed as suicide bombers target Amman hotels

At least 53 people were now believed killed and more than 300 injured after explosions rocked three hotels in the Jordanian capital Amman today.

“The attacks carry the trademark of Al-Qaida,” one police official said. “However it is not certain. We are investigating.”

Major Bashir al-Da'aja of the Jordanian police said officials believed all the hotel blasts were carried out by suicide bombers.

“There were three terrorist attacks on the Grand Hyatt, Radisson SAS and Days Inn hotels and it is believed that the blasts were suicide bombings,” Major al-Da'aja told The Associated Press. He declined to elaborate.

The explosions struck the Grand Hyatt, Radisson SAS and Days Inn hotels. The hotels, in the commercial Jebel Amman district, are frequented by businessmen and diplomats from Europe and the US. The Radisson, in particular, is popular with Israeli tourists, and was a target of several foiled Al-Qaida plots in the past.

Black smoke rose into the night and wounded stumbled out of the hotels. The stone entrance of the Grand Hyatt was completely shattered. An AP reporter saw seven bodies carried out and many more wounded on stretchers.

“It was a miracle that we made it out with a scratch,” said a British guest at the Grand Hyatt.

The blast ripped through the Radisson during a wedding party with at least 300 guests. At least five people were killed and 20 wounded in that explosion.

“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.”

Jordan, a key ally of the US, had largely escaped the terror attacks that have hit other parts of the Middle East, and its sleepy capital, Amman, is viewed as a haven of stability in the region.

But Jordan has not been entirely immune. On August 19, militants fired three Katyusha rockets at a Navy ship docked at the Red Sea resort of Aqaba, narrowly missing it and killing a Jordanian soldier.

Jordanian officials blamed that attack on Al-Qaida in Iraq, and there have been growing worries that the violence in Iraq could spill over into Jordan, where many Iraqi exiles have taken refuge from the violence.

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