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Jordanian police arrest man with explosive belt

Tried to enter Muslim Brotherhood HQ

A man wearing an explosive belt was arrested Monday as he tried to enter the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan's largest opposition group, authorities said.

A police official said the man was being questioned after what appeared to be a planned attack on the Amman headquarters of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood. He declined to provide other details and insisted on anonymity in line with standing police regulations.

Islamic Action Front leader Ali Abu Sukar confirmed that the man was wearing an explosive belt.

"Our employees became suspicious of him as he entered the building," Sukar told the Associated Press.

"They called police, who immediately came and overpowered him," he added. "Now, he's in police custody."

He said nobody at the office recognized the man.

A police source later said that the alleged explosives belt turned out to be "fake" and the man "in a state of drunkenness".

Denounce the IAF

Government loyalists have denounced the IAF, accusing it of refusing to give Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit enough time to introduce demanded reforms while instigating activists to take to the streets.

Another Front leader, Jaafar Sabti, said he witnessed the planned attack.

"As we finished our noon prayers, a man walked into the building warning us that he was wearing an explosive belt and would blow himself up and tear our heads off," he said.

"We tried to calm him down because we didn't want any incident to take place here," he said. He said the attacker accused the Front of "being against reforms and hating King Abdullah II."

"I told him 'No, we are for reform, but against corruption in the government. We love the king'," Sabti said.

Sabti said the man then opened his long Arabic robe to display his explosive belt. He said the man spoke in a Jordanian accent, appeared to be middle-aged and was "possibly drunk because he smelled of alcohol."

The Islamic Action Front has refused to take part in a national dialogue on reform initiated by Abdullah and insisted on changes being introduced quickly.

The IAF demands include dissolving what it widely seen as a docile parliament, the only elected body in Jordan. It also wants Abdullah's absolute powers reduced, specifically in appointing prime ministers, and wants the premier to be elected by popular vote.

The opposition group wants al-Bakhit dismissed, and regards the former army general as incapable of carrying out reforms based on his 2005-2007 tenure as prime minister, when he was accused of rigging parliamentary elections.

Suicide bombings are not commonplace in Jordan but in November 2005 a triple hotel suicide bombing later claimed by al-Qaida in Iraq killed 60 people - all Jordanian Muslims. It was the deadliest attack in the modern history of this key U.S. ally with diplomatic relations with Israel under a peace treaty signed in 1994.

As we finished our noon prayers, a man walked into the building warning us that he was wearing an explosive belt and would blow himself up and tear our heads off

Islamic Action Front leader Jaafar Sabti