Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Rocket lands in Jordanian port of Aqaba

A rocket struck the Jordanian port of Aqaba, killing a 51-year-old taxi driver outside the Intercontinental Hotel and wounding four others.

AMMAN // With their country bordering two nations - Iraq and Israel - where upheaval has been a regular occurrence lately, Jordanians frequently lament the fact that they pay a "geographical tax". They paid it again yesterday when a rocket struck the Jordanian port of Aqaba, killing a 51-year-old taxi driver outside the Intercontinental Hotel and wounding four others. Three rockets fell into the Red Sea, while two others hit an open area in the nearby Israeli town of Eilat, according to Israeli media.

It was not immediately certain where the rockets were aimed, since there was no claim of responsibility. Still, Eilat, which stands at the southern tip of Israel between Egypt and Jordan, was the best guess at the intended target, since it is a thriving Israeli tourist hub that has been a target of similar attacks in the past. Nor was it immediately certain where the rockets came from, though speculation in Israel immediately centred on Egypt's Sinai peninsula, which borders Eilat. Militant groups have been known to operate in the Sinai with a large degree of impunity. Egyptian authorities denied the rocket barrage originated on Egyptian soil.

Jordanian officials did not speculate about whether their country was the target. They simply described how it was affected by an attack apparently not aimed at it, the second since April. "One Grad rocket was fired from outside Jordanian territory on a main street in front of the Intercontinental Hotel in Aqaba. Two cars were also burned," Ali Ayed, Minister of State for Media Affairs, told Petra, the state-run news agency. "Jordan condemns this criminal and terrorist attack which is a useless act that serves only suspicious agendas."

Muhammad Abu Rumma, an analyst with Alghad daily newspaper, was confident he knew the attack's origin and intended target. "It is evident that the main target is Israel, though the operation was not accurate. Initial information indicates that the rockets were launched from Egyptian territory and that they were targeting Israel," Mr Rumma said. The ability of militant groups to operate freely and carry out the attack was worrisome, particular for the Egyptian government, Mr Rumma said.

"Lately, there is a real security problem between the Egyptian authorities and the tribes in Sinai, and there are elements from al Qa'eda and militant groups infiltrating into that area," he said. "Al Qa'eda is trying to make political gains and promote itself in the media through announcing operations against Israeli targets. This means that the Palestinian issue is on its agenda." Although it appears the rockets were fired at Israel from Egypt, some analysts said Jordan could well be within the sights of militant groups such as al Qa'eda, although the group's threat to Jordan is widely believed to have diminished since Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant, was killed in 2006 in Iraq.

Still, the Jordanian government acknowledged in January that it had a counter-terrorism role in Afghanistan. One of its security agents was killed in a suicide bombing that also killed seven agents of the US Central Intelligence Agency. Jordan is a moderate country that signed a peace treaty with Israel and has close ties with the United States. "The attacks are a message to the US and its allies, and they come at a time when the US is escalating action against Iran and pressuring the Palestinians to get into direct negotiations" with Israel, said Marwan Shehadeh, an Amman-based expert on Islamist movements.

"My interpretation is that the perpetrators are Palestinian groups that carry the ideology of the Salafi Jihadi movements but have no organizational links with al Qa'eda." @Email:smaayeh@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen. AFP Photo

The inner workings of Gulen’s ‘parallel state’

Fethullah Gulen's followers are accused of trying to push Turkey's prime minister from power.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National