Attack in Jordan Targets Israeli Embassy Convoy

By: Jamal Halaby & Mark Lavie - AP Writers
By: Jamal Halaby & Mark Lavie - AP Writers

NAOUR, Jordan (AP) - A roadside bomb exploded Thursday near a
convoy of Israeli diplomats traveling through Jordan on their way
home for the weekend, but no one was hurt, officials in both
countries said.

Ambassador Daniel Nevo was not in the convoy, Israeli officials
in Jerusalem said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

It was the first time a roadside bomb was used in an attack in
Jordan, where suicide bombings and shootings have targeted
foreigners in recent years. The method is widespread in neighboring
Iraq.

The sundown attack also exposed a security breach for Israeli
diplomats, who are usually escorted by security personnel from both
countries and use different routes and departure times during their
occasional travels in Jordan.

The explosion ripped through the right side of a curvy road
cutting through hilly villages on the western outskirts of the
capital, Amman. The blast left a large hole about 3 feet (1 meter)
deep and damaged a highway guardrail.

Jordanian forensic officers were inspecting the site of the
attack, a security official said. The area is halfway from the King
Hussein-Allenby Bridge at the border.

Israel and Jordan, which signed a peace treaty in 1994, maintain
close security cooperation and cordial diplomatic ties.

But anti-Israeli sentiments have been running high as the
Israel-Palestinian conflict drags on without a solution. A
significant portion of Jordan's population is made up of
Palestinians.

The U.S. Embassy in Amman issued a statement recommending that
American citizens avoid the Dead Sea Highway from Amman to the Dead Sea until further notice.

Police were trying to determine the size and complexity of the
bomb, which appears to have exploded remotely, the official said,
insisting on anonymity because he is not allowed to release details
during early stages of investigation.

Israeli media reported that one or two roadside bombs exploded
as the Israeli convoy passed, but the timing of the
remote-controlled detonation was off and the vehicles were not
seriously damaged. The convoy later crossed the bridge to Israel,
Israel TV said.

The section of road, which is less monitored than the area
closer to the bridge, is used by tourists and other travelers
visiting the Dead Sea.

After the explosion, the convoy entered a small Jordanian army
post as soldiers searched the area, Israel's Channel 2 TV said.

Jordanian police sealed off the main road leading to the area,
sending large numbers of firefighters, police and ambulances to the
scene.

Information Minister Nabil Sharif said in a brief statement that
an "explosive device went off on the side of the road leading to
the Jordan Valley" as "some civilian vehicles were passing by,
including two Israeli diplomatic cars."

He said there were no injuries, and authorities have launched an
investigation.

Two Jordanian security officials said the attackers may have
thought that the Israeli ambassador to Jordan was in the convoy.

In Amman, Israeli Embassy spokeswoman Merav Horsandi confirmed
there was a blast next to a convoy carrying embassy employees.
"All I can say now is that everyone is fine," she said.

In Jerusalem, Israeli officials said four passengers and two
security guards were in the convoy and they were heading to Israel
for the weekend.

There have been several attempted attacks on Israeli citizens in
Jordan in past years.

In 2001, Israeli jeweler Yitzhak Shnir, 51, was gunned down in
Amman. An unknown group claimed responsibility, saying Shnir was an
Israeli spy.

In 2005, al-Qaida in Iraq said after its triple hotel blasts in
Amman that one of the targets included a hotel known to be
patronized by Israelis.


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