Syria war hits Jordan as soldiers killed in border attack

A security member, who was injured during an attack at a camp for Syrian refugees is transported from a military helicopter in Amman, Jordan, on June 21, 2016.
A security member, who was injured during an attack at a camp for Syrian refugees is transported from a military helicopter in Amman, Jordan, on June 21, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIRUT (BLOOMBERG) - A suicide bomber in a speeding, explosives- rigged car struck a Jordanian military post near the border with Syria on Tuesday (June 21), leaving six dead and 14 wounded, in the second attack on the kingdom's security forces this month.

The bomb targeted a forward military post that offers help to Syrian refugees stuck in the no-man's land separating the countries, the army said in a statement on its Facebook page. The bomber raced toward the post from the Syrian refugee camp as security forces fired at his vehicle, it said.

The army destroyed several other vehicles that also attacked the area early Tuesday morning, it said, without elaborating.

More than 50,000 Syrian refugees are stranded in that border area. Jordanhas limited the entry of Syrians, saying it has found many Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants among them.

King Abdullah II said Jordan will "strike with an iron fist" at anyone who tries to harm the country's security, state- run Petra news agency said.

Although hundreds of Jordanians have joined Islamist militant groups in Syria, including ISIS, the US ally has largely managed to fend off the instability that has affected other countries in the region during more than five years of conflict in Syria. But its economy has suffered as more than 1.3 million refugees poured into the country.

Jordan's economy is forecast to grow around 2.7 per cent in 2016, less than the 3.5 per cent previously forecast, due to the crises in neighbouring Iraq and Syria, the country's Finance Minister Omar Malhas said in April. He called 2016 a "very tough year for Jordan."

The kingdom and the International Monetary Fund have recently reached a staff-level agreement on a 36-month credit facility to help unlock donor grants and loans to support the struggling economy. Malhas has said Jordan expects the agreement to provide as much as US$800 million.

Intensifying Attempts

"It seems the terrorists' attempts to destabilise Jordan are intensifying," said Adeeb Sarayreh, a retired major general in the Jordan Armed Forces. There have been many attempts to target the border guards over the past five years, Sarayreh by phone. "This time the terrorists succeeded in their scheme," he said.

On June 6, five Jordanian intelligence personnel were killed in an attack on their office in the Al-Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp north of the capital, Amman.

In November, a police officer opened fire at a police training facility in Amman, killing two Americans, a South African and two Jordanians. After clashes with militants in the northern city of Irbid in March, Jordanian security forces said they had foiled an ISIS plot to attack military and civilian targets.

"Terrorists strike again this time against our border guard," Nasser Judeh, Jordan's foreign minister, said on Twitter. "This evil will be defeated."