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Saturday April 24, 2010 9:12 AM (EST+7)
Minister says rockets not fired from Jordan

Read more: rockets, Jordan, Grad, missiles

AMMAN, April 22 (Suleiman al-Khalidi/Reuters) - Jordan said on Thursday a rocket that hit a warehouse in Jordan was fired from outside the country, targeting the kingdom, and said no rockets had been launched from within its territory.

After an investigation, the cause of the explosion was the fall of a (Soviet-made) Grad rocket from outside Jordanian territory. The rocket was not launched from Jordanian territory, Nabil Sharif, minister of state for information, told Reuters, without giving further details.

Witnesses and a Jordanian security source earlier said two rockets were fired from the Jordanian port of Aqaba, just east of Israel's resort city of Eilat, but landed on the empty warehouse. The minister did not mention a second rocket.

Hours after Jordan confirmed that an explosion took place at a warehouse causing minor damage, Sharif told Reuters that there was nothing so far that indicated that any rockets were launched from Jordan.

Witnesses had said that at least one rocket was fired from the mountainous ridge overlooking the port of Aqaba and hit a refrigerated warehouse and caused no injuries.

The rocket came from the direction of the eastern mountains, said one witness.


We saw a ball of fire that struck a warehouse at the entrance of the city, said another witness who was performing dawn prayers at a mosque in the early morning.

Another said he heard an explosion minutes after he saw what resembled a rocket hit a warehouse. There was a strong explosion but we couldn't see anything beyond that, he added.

In Jerusalem, the Israeli military said security forces searched Eilat after explosions and flashes of light were reported, but found no evidence of a security-related incident.

The incident took place nine days after Israel told its nationals holidaying in Egypt's Sinai, across the border west of Eilat, to leave, saying militants planned to kidnap Israelis.

Israeli media reports said earlier that Israel suspected the rockets were fired by militants in the Sinai. Egyptian sources denied that rockets were fired from there.

In 2005, rockets were fired at U.S. warships in Aqaba's port 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 the Sinai and killed three people at an Eilat bakery.

Jordan, which made peace with Israel in 1994, is one of a handful of Arab countries to have diplomatic ties with Israel. Those ties were frayed by Israel's crackdown in 2000 on a Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Anti-Israeli feeling has risen in recent years and many politicians have repeatedly demanded the severing of relations with Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians.

(Additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem and Missy Ryan in Cairo; Editing by Mark Heinrich)






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