Attackers in Jordan fired at least three rockets at a U.S. amphibious assault ship docked at this Red Sea resort early Friday, missing the vessel but killing a Jordanian soldier. It was the most serious attack on the Navy by militants since the USS Cole was bombed in 2000.
One of the rockets landed close to an airport in neighboring Israel but caused no serious damage. No Americans were injured in the attack.
Jordanian security forces were searching for at least six Egyptian, Syrian and Iraqi suspects, officials said. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a group that asserted responsibility for a July attack on the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh that killed 64 people and attacks on two other Egyptian resorts last October that killed 34 people, posted a statement on the Internet saying its fighters fired the rockets Friday.
"A group of our holy warriors . . . targeted a gathering of American military ships docking in Aqaba port," said the statement, which also threatened to bring down King Abdullah of Jordan.
The string of attacks over 10 months has raised fears that extremists are opening a new arena of combat in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and the Gulf of Aqaba, an area bordered by Israel, Egypt and Jordan.
[Washington Post staff writer Josh White reported from Washington: Cmdr. Jeff Breslau, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, said two U.S. ships had been docked at Aqaba for about a week. They were in a secure port, he said, but their presence was easy to notice. He said preliminary reports indicated that the rocket narrowly missed the bow of the USS Ashland, which has about 450 sailors on board.
[The Ashland and the USS Kearsarge, with about 2,000 sailors and Marines on board, left Aqaba shortly after the attack. The ships, based in Norfolk, had been supporting a Marine joint training mission with Jordan. Breslau said no one had contacted U.S. officials to assert responsibility for the attack.
["Any incident like this is a serious concern for us," Breslau said in a telephone interview. "We're always worried about the potential for attack when we go to port in this region." Navy officials in Washington said any such attack or threat is a major concern, especially after the Cole bombing, which occurred off Yemen at the other end of the Red Sea and killed 17 sailors.]
Two of the rockets were Katyushas -- highly inaccurate, unguided weapons used by Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas to attack northern Israel. One whizzed over the deck of one of the U.S. ships and the other sailed across the border, landing about 15 yards from the perimeter fence at the airport for the resort of Eilat, about nine miles from Aqaba.
"I heard a noise, the car shook and I kept driving" for two more yards, said Meir Farhan, 40, an Israeli cabdriver, who suffered minor wounds. "When I went out of the car, I saw a hole in the ground on the asphalt."
The third rocket hit the backyard wall of Jordan's Princess Haya military hospital, which lies between the firing site and the Israeli border.