AMMAN, Jordan -- Inmates rioted at three Jordanian prisons yesterday over the fates of two convicted Al Qaeda killers and a would-be suicide bomber, raising new concern about increasing sympathy for the terror network in Mideast prisons.
The prisoners took a high-ranking official hostage and injured several other police before the 14-hour standoff ended without major bloodshed.
Jordan later announced that it had arrested two Iraqi men and a would-be Libyan suicide bomber who belonged to Al Qaeda and plotted an attack on an unspecified ''vital civilian facility" in the capital, Amman.
While no details were given to link the riots and the arrests, they indicated Osama bin Laden's terror network may be finding fertile recruiting grounds in pro-US Jordan and elsewhere in the region.
The prison riots in Jordan took place less than a month after 23 Al Qaeda convicts tunneled out of a prison in Yemen. They included a man convicted of the deadly 2000 attack on the USS Cole.
Yemeni security officials also said yesterday that authorities thwarted other escape attempts by Al Qaeda suspects in two prisons over the past two days, both in cities outside the capital, San'a.
Meanwhile, a four-day rebellion that left six inmates dead at Afghanistan's main prison ended after more than 1,000 inmates surrendered. Officials said the last to give up were Al Qaeda and Taliban militants.
The prison flare-ups indicated wide support, particularly in Jordanian jails, among terror-related detainees for Al Qaeda and other militant groups.
''Prisons sometimes seem to be centers of attracting and recruiting terrorists, not for punishing them," said Mustafa Alani, director of security and terrorism studies at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai.
Jordan's prime minister called for an inquiry into the riots.
It was unclear how many inmates were involved in the riots and hostage standoff at the three Jordanian prisons, which began about 1 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m.
The spokesman for the Department of Public Security, Major Bashir Da'aja, said 79 inmates rioted at the Juweideh prison on the southern outskirts of Amman, where the standoff occurred.
The inmates gradually freed their captives, including the head of the country's jails, Colonel Saad al-Ajrami, who had been seized with about six security personnel.
The causes of the riot were unclear, but they centered on at least two convicted Al Qaeda terrorists -- including the killer of an American aid worker -- being held at Swaqa prison, where rioting also broke out.
The third riot took place at Qafqafa prison, 60 miles north of the capital.
The inmates also called for the release of an Iraqi woman, Sajida al-Rishawi, whose husband blew himself up in one of three deadly hotel bombings in Amman in November but whose own explosives vest failed to detonate.
''The security apparatus could have ended the riots in minutes but preferred to settle the issue through negotiations to avoid bloodshed," Interior Minister Eid al-Fayez said.
He said several men on each side -- including police who were beaten with sticks and the metal legs of beds -- were injured, none seriously.
Da'aja said the trouble broke out at Juweideh when prisoners demanded that two Al Qaeda-linked militants, Azmi al-Jayousi of Jordan and Salem bin Suweid of Libya, be transferred there from the Swaqa prison.