Rockets were fired at two U.S. Navy warships docked in the port of Aqaba, Jordan Friday morning. Neither ship was hit and no U.S. personnel were injured, the military said.
Jordanian and Israeli officials told wire services that up to three Katyusha rockets were fired in the direction of the ships from a warehouse in an industrial area.
One hit a nearby warehouse, killing a Jordanian soldier, wire service reports said. Another slammed into a taxi traveling near the airport in Israel's nearby Red Sea resort of Eilat, but did not explode and a third landed near a Jordanian hospital.
Aqaba and Eilat, about 10 miles apart, are located on either side of the Jordan-Israel border at the northern end of the Red Sea close to the Sinai Peninsula.
The attack was the most serious on U.S. targets in Jordan, a close U.S. ally, since the killing of American diplomat Lawrence Foley in Amman in 2002.
A group claiming links to al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks in a statement carried on an Islamist web site, according to wire services. The statement by the Abdullah al-Azzam Brigades of the al Qaeda Organisation in the Levant and Egypt could not be immediately authenticated.
The U.S. Central Command said in a press release that the ships were the USS Ashland and the USS Kearsarge, which left the port for open water after the attack.
The U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain said one missile just narrowly missed the USS Ashland, Reuters reported. "It's pretty safe to conclude that they were probably trying to hit one or both of the ships," Commander Jeff Breslau of the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain told Reuters.
The Ashland is an amphibious warfare ship designed to transport Marines and their combat gear along with assault landing craft and helicopters. The Kearsarge is an assault command ship that can carry 1,200 troops.
The military press release called it an "apparent rocket attack" that occurred at 8:44 a.m. local time. A "suspected mortar rocket flew over the USS Ashland's bow and impacted in a warehouse on the pier in the vicinity" of the ships, the military said.
Jordanian officials were quoted as saying that there were actually three rockets rather than one. Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said "one or two" rockets had fallen, according to the Reuters news agency.
The Red Sea port serves as a logistics hub for Iraq, used by the military for moving supplies.
The Reuters news service said Jordanian security forces are hunting a Syrian and two Iraqi nationals in connection with the rocket attacks.