AQABA, Jordan (Reuters) - Rockets from Egypt’s Sinai, an area where Islamist militants have operated in the past, struck Israel’s and Jordan’s Red Sea port resorts on Monday, injuring four civilians, Jordanian and Israeli police said.
A Jordanian interior ministry source said four civilians were injured, one seriously, when a rocket hit a hotel area in its port of Aqaba. There was no word of casualties in the adjacent Israeli port and holiday resort of Eilat, police said.
“The Grad rocket landed in a public street near a major five star hotel and caused four injuries, with three persons lightly wounded and the other casualty in serious condition,” the Jordanian source said.
Asked where the Aqaba rocket was fired, he said without elaborating: “It came from the west.” Experts were investigating the site to find out where the short-range Grad rocket had been launched, he said.
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A Jordanian resident in the port city Ibrahim Salymeh said he heard one loud blast and when he arrived at the scene saw at least three injured men taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance.
A crowd gathered near the scene of the explosion several hundred metres away from a five star hotel close to the beach.
“We saw the wreckage of a taxi which was burnt and fragmented metal scattered around the area that was cordoned off by police,” Aqaba resident Abdullah Yashin Rawashdehd told Reuters.
Eilat District Police Commander Moshe Cohen told Israel Radio that his forces were still trying to confirm that five explosions heard in the morning had been caused by shelling.
Two of the suspected rockets or mortar bombs appeared to have landed in the sea, while another hit Aqaba, he said.
“It’s a little early to say, but it is reasonable to assume that it came from the southern area,” he said, referring to neighbouring Egypt, whose Sinai desert has seen occasional violence attributed to Islamist militants.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
At least one rocket struck Aqaba on April 22, causing no casualties. Amman said the rocket had been fired from outside Jordan and Israeli media said Sinai was a possible launch point.
In 2005, rockets were fired at U.S. warships in Aqaba but missed their target and killed a Jordanian soldier on land. A group claiming links to al Qaeda said it was behind the attack.
Two years later, a Palestinian suicide bomber infiltrated through Sinai and killed three people at an Eilat bakery.
Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab states to have full peace accords with Israel. Those ties were frayed by Israel’s crackdown in 2000 on a Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Writing by Dan Williams and Suleiman al-Khalidi; Editing by Louise Ireland
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