Aqaba, Eilat attack: One Jordanian soldier dies as al Qaeda claims responsibility
Three Katyusha missiles were fired early Friday at a U.S. Navy ship docked in a Jordanian port and at a nearby airport in neighboring Israeli city, officials said. One Jordanian soldier was killed and another wounded as one missile landed in a warehouse owned by the Jordan Armed Forces. A second exploded near the military hospital while the third exploded in the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
According to The AP, the U.S. Navy confirmed a mortar was fired at an American ship docked in Jordan's port of Aqaba. Israeli police and witnesses said a Katyusha rocket fired from Jordan fell on a car near Eilat airport, but did not explode. Aqaba and Eilat are about 10 miles apart.
The missile in Aqaba missed the vessel but slammed into a warehouse on a dock. "At approximately 8:44 a.m. local time a suspected mortar rocket flew over the USS Ashland over the bow and impacted a warehouse on the pier in the vicinity of the Ashland and the USS Kearsarge, which were in port," said Lt. Cdr. Charlie Brown of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain.
"The warehouse sustained an approximate 8 foot hole in the roof of the building and no sailors or Marines were injured in the attack," Brown told The Associated Press.
A Jordanian security source told AFP that a Jordanian soldier died in the rocket attack in Aqaba. "Soldier Ahmad Saleh al-Najdawi was killed when a rocket exploded in the port of Aqaba on Friday," said the source.
According to the Jordanian police, the attack was launched from a warehouse in Aqaba. "First-hand investigations pointed that the warehouse was rented few days ago by four persons carrying Iraqi and Egyptian nationalities," an official Jordanian statement said.
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, speaking in southern Israel, said the attacks were "intended to damage the Israeli side and the Jordanian side as well." "We still don't know who is behind this act but I'm sure the Jordanians will do all they can to prevent such attacks in the future as in the past," Mofaz said, adding Israeli authorities are in contact with Jordanians over the incidents.
An al-Qaeda-linked group on Friday claimed responsibility for the attacks. The group, dubbed the Abdullah Azzam Brigades of the al-Qaeda Organization in the Levant and Egypt, said in a statement posted on the internet that its fighters fired three Katyusha rockets at US military ships docked in Aqaba and Eilat port.
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)