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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March 2005, 15:38 GMT
Protest rally over Qatar bombing
Blast scene in Doha, Qatar
The attack was the first of its kind in Qatar
More than 1,000 people in Qatar have rallied in protest over a suicide car bombing that killed a Briton and injured 12 other people.

The bomb exploded outside a theatre near the capital, Doha, on Saturday.

Protesters rallying at the site of the explosion waved the national flag and held banners saying "No to Terrorism", while some said prayers.

The Briton killed was teacher Jonathan Adams, in his 50s. The bomber was named as Egyptian Omar Ahmed Abdullah Ali.

A previously little-known militant group, Jund al-Sham, said on a website it carried out the attack, but this could not be immediately verified.

Newspaper condemnation

The attack, the first of its kind in the Gulf state, came on the second anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq and has shocked Qatar.

It went dark, there was smoke everywhere, things were flying through the air - it was just pandemonium
Julie Hirst, who was in the theatre when the blast struck

Around 20 Western expatriates attended the protest, despite warnings from embassies not to gather in public.

A friend of Mr Adams in Qatar, 56-year-old Nick Blessley, said he was protesting to express his anger at the bombing.

"I believe this is not the work of Qataris," he said.

Hassan al-Kindi, a 60-year-old Doha businessman at the rally, said: "We are very angry with what is happened in our country and we will back our government in every way to make sure none of this will ever happen again."

Around 50 heavily armed paratroopers surrounded the devastated theatre where the protest was held.

The Qatar government urged citizens and expatriates to join the "Rally of Indignation" beginning in the Halifax district, where the attack took place.

'Brotherly state'

Newspapers in Qatar have printed pictures of the victim and bomber, offering consolations to Mr Adams' family and condemning the attack.

Egypt's embassy added to the condemnations.

Charge d'affaires Yasser Elshawaf said: "We strongly denounce such terrorist acts. We hope that this act will not affect the stability of Qatar, because Qatar is a brotherly state."

Omar Ahmed Abdullah Ali
Omar Ahmed Abdullah Ali worked at Qatar Petroleum
Sheikh Yussef al-Qaradawi, an influential Egyptian-born hardline Muslim scholar based in Qatar, said such attacks were "not permitted either by religion or norms".

Mr Adams, originally from Dorset, had been in Qatar for about two years, media reports said.

He had left his seat alongside wife Rosemarie to investigate a noise at the back of the auditorium and took the full force of the explosion.

At the time about 100 people were in the theatre, which is situated close to a British school.

In its website claim, the Jund al-Sham said one of its "lions" carried out the attack and promised a full statement later.

'New baby'

The bomber named by Qatari authorities has been confirmed as an employee of the state-run Qatar Petroleum.

He had worked as a computer programmer there for about 10 years.

Such criminal actions targeting innocent people... are the work of a deviant and deluded group
Al-Watan newspaper

One colleague told the Reuters news agency: "Nobody expected this from him. He was a decent man and just had a baby a month ago."

A team of French experts has reportedly arrived in Doha to help in the investigation, which will include checking possible links between the bomber and the al-Qaeda organisation.

The Metropolitan Police has also confirmed that officers from its anti-terrorist unit are assisting the investigation in Qatar at the request of the local authorities.

Western embassies had said they believed the threat from terrorism in Qatar, which hosts the US military's Central Command, was high.

Last Thursday, al-Qaeda's Saudi boss, Saleh al-Oufi, used an Islamist website to urge attacks on "crusader" enemies in Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

Car bomb targets theatre in Qatar
20 Mar 05 |  Middle East
Country profile: Qatar
18 Dec 04 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Qatar
12 Aug 04 |  Country profiles

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