Police have arrested at least 120 people, mainly Iraqis and Jordanians, in the nationwide manhunt for those behind the triple Amman hotel bombings, a senior police official said Friday.
The death toll in the attacks rose to at least 60, including the bombers, with the death of Syrian-American film director Mustapha Akkad. He was 75 and has suffered serious injuries and a heart attack in the Wednesday attack, which the al-Qaida in Iraq terror group, headed by Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has claimed responsibility.
Thousands of Jordanians nationwide attended weekly Friday sermons in hundreds of mosques, which all performed special prayers "for the absent" to commemorate the bombing victims.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan flew into Amman to meet Jordan's King Abdullah II and the foreign minister. A second day of mass protests were expected to be held across Jordan to condemn the militants behind the attacks. On Thursday, thousands denounced al-Zarqawi and called for his death.
The police official had no details on the possible role of any of the 120 detained over Wednesday's suicide bombings on the Grand Hyatt, Radisson SAS and Days Inn hotels, Jordan's deadliest ever terror attacks and the first believed to have been carried out beyond Iraq's borders by al-Qaida in Iraq.
"Scores have been rounded up in different parts of the country since the attacks," said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
"They're of different nationalities, mainly Iraqis and Jordanians. The number of people interrogated now is 120."
"We don't know if any of them were involved in the attacks or assisted the suicide bombers," the official told The Associated Press. "Many may simply be innocent."
There has been intense speculation in Jordan that Iraqi militants were behind the attacks. Al-Zarqawi has trained a special corps of at least 100 Iraqi suicide bombers to conduct attacks inside, and possibly outside,Iraq.
At least one of the three suicide bombers spoke to people inside the lobby of the Hyatt Hotel with an Iraqi accent before blowing himself up.
Jordan's interior minister confirmed that police are quizzing suspects of "different nationalities, including Iraqis."
"We're gathering evidence which can lead us to the perpetrators," Interior Minister Awni Yirfas told the AP.
Yirfas did not say how many people had been detained not specify why or when they were arrested.
Akkad, 74, was with his 34-year-old American daughter, Rima Akkad Monla, in the lobby of the Hyatt hotel when the bomber struck, Jordanian TV said Friday. Akkad's daughter died instantly in the attack.
Both lived in Los Angeles, but relatives said the elder Akkad will be buried Sunday in the Syrian city of Aleppo where he was born Sunday, while his daughter will be buried in Lebanon, where her husband comes from, according to relatives.
In figures released Friday, Jordanian officials said the dead included 38 Jordanians, many of Palestinian descent; four Iraqis; an Israeli-Arab; four Palestinians; three Chinese; a Qatari and one Lebanese. Several bodies have not yet been identified.
The U.S. Embassy said late Thursday that two Americans were killed in the attacks and four wounded. It was not immediately clear if that number included the Akkads.
Forensic experts have recovered most of the pieces of the faces, heads and necks of the three suicide bombers and reassembled them in a bid to get a clearer idea of who carried out the attacks, a police official said on condition of anonymity as he was unauthorized to speak to the media. DNA samples of also been taken for testing.
Thousands of police forces continued the manhunt Friday, setting up scores of checkpoints across the country and searching hundreds of vehicles.
A member of Jordan's royal family has offered to host another wedding celebration for Ashraf Akhras and his wife, whose party at the Radisson hotel was the target of one of Wednesday's bombings. At least 13 members of the Akhras family died in that attack.
Jordanian actors and singers also offered to perform at the wedding, while several also penned a new song called "Our Country," which they performed on morning TV Friday. "We will not give into terrorism," sang prominent Jordanian performers Omar Abdullat and Diana Karazon. Full-page messages of condolence and advertisements placed by Jordanians of all backgrounds pledging allegiance to Jordan's monarch filled Friday newspapers.
Mosques across Jordan will conduct special "prayers for the absent" to commemorate those who died, reports the AP. I.L.
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