A husband and wife were among four Iraqis who bombed hotels in the Jordanian capital Amman on Wednesday, according to a statement from the militant group, al-Qaida in Iraq.
“A group of martyrdom-seekers carried out the planning and implementation. They comprised three men and a woman who decided to accompany her husband on the path to martyrdom,” the statement said.
“All of these are Iraqis from the land between the two rivers,” it said, alluding to Iraq’s ancient name, Mesopotamia. “They vowed to die and they chose the shortest route to receive the blessings of God.”
Jordanian police said today that they had arrested 120 people over the suicide bombings of three luxury hotels in Amman, which killed 56 people.
Searches were most active in poor suburbs of the capital known to be home to large numbers of Iraqis. “The authorities are interrogating a wide range of suspects from different nationalities, including Iraqi nationals,” Jordan’s interior minister, Awni Yarfas, said.
On the streets of Amman yesterday, crowds of people took to the streets to protest the attack and call for the death of al-Qaida in Iraq’s leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was born in the city of Zarqa, just north of Amman. Further rallies were scheduled to take place after noon prayers today.
Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for the bombings yesterday. Today’s claim gave further details of the attackers, saying that they had spent a month preparing for the bombings and had acted out of revenge for the Sunnis in Qaim, a city on the Syrian-Iraqi border where US and Iraqi forces are currently fighting Islamist insurgents.
In August, Zarqawi’s group claimed responsibility for a failed rocket attack on US Navy ships in the Jordanian port of Aqaba.
The Radisson, Grand Hyatt, and Days Inn hotels are popular with western journalists, security organisations, contracters and aid agencies. But the vast majority of those killed were Jordanians, including two families who were holding wedding parties when the bombs went off.
Jordanian officials confirmed they had found the remains of three male bombers at the hotels, and said a female body initially thought to have been part of a wedding party at the Radisson may have been the fourth bomber.
Jordan’s King Abdullah promised to hunt down the perpetrators.
“We will pursue those criminals and those who are behind them, and we will reach them wherever they are,” he said in televised address last night.