New York Times Discusses Suicide Bomber, Cites IRI’s Jordan Poll

Car Bomb in Jordan, Near Syria Border, Kills 6
New York Times
By Rana F. Sweis

AMMAN, Jordan — Four Jordanian soldiers, a police officer and a civil defense officer were killed on Tuesday after a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb on the Jordanian border with Syria, according to a statement by the Jordanian Armed Forces.

The attack took place on the Syrian side of the border around 5:30 a.m. on the sand berm across from a camp for refugees in Rukban, Jordan, where an estimated 60,000 people are living in harsh conditions.

The military said in its statement that the car carrying the explosives had hit a military post in the buffer zone at the border after approaching from the refugee camp, and that the Jordanian forces opened fire. The driver blew up the car, the statement said, killing the security personnel and wounding 14 others.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which prompted the authorities in Jordan to close the northern and northeastern borders with Syria.

On June 6, three officers of the Jordanian intelligence service and two other employees of the service were killed at an intelligence office near Amman, the capital, in what the government said was a terrorist attack.

Terrorist attacks in Jordan, a crucial ally of the United States in the region, are relatively rare, but the country is constantly on alert because of the threat posed by Islamic extremists, notably from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

King Abdullah II of Jordan said in a statement that, “Anyone who assaults or attempts to harm Jordan’s security and unity will be met with an iron fist,” and the military vowed that it would continue to fight terrorists and “their dark minds.”

For more than a year, Syrians have been fleeing the civil war to an area over the berm, which was once known for little more than desert sand, scorpions and snakes but is now a populated area vulnerable to traders, smugglers and drug dealers.

The area is home to a demilitarized zone that prevents people from crossing into Jordan but gives relief agencies a place to provide assistance to refugees. A sprawling informal camp on the Syrian side of the border has grown to house tens of thousands of people who fled areas including Aleppo, Homs and Palmyra.

Jordan has cited security and economic concerns tied to the refugees, some of whom come from areas controlled by the Islamic State, in refusing to allow them to cross the border.

The country had been allowing 200 to 300 refugees from the border area into the country each day, but only after they are subjected to a thorough security screening and after immense pressure from other countries.

Jordan has taken in more than 650,000 Syrian refugees, according to the United Nations refugee agency. A majority of them live outside refugee camps.

Despite the alarming numbers at the berm, aid agencies and the government have been wary of speaking publicly about the refugee situation on the border because they do not want to anger the Jordanian government.

Ariane Rummery, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, said that no staff members had been injured.

“The attack underlines how challenging a relief operation is at the berm,” she said. “We remain concerned about the security situation for those living there and humanitarian agencies working there. We will continue to seek to provide support to the population in need there but are aware that security restrictions following this attack will be heightened.”

This month, five people, including three officers of the Jordanian intelligence service, were killed at an intelligence office at a Palestinian camp near Amman.

Officials in Jordan said at the time that they had arrested the assailant, but most of the details about the attack remain unknown because of a gag order issued by the authorities.

The intelligence office was part of the country’s General Intelligence Directorate, making it a particularly significant target for militants.

In November, at least five people, including two American trainers, were killed at an Amman training compound by a Jordanian police officer who fired on them before he was shot and killed, the government said.

A recently published poll by the International Republican Institute found that attitudes in Jordan toward the Islamic State were hardening.

Eighty-nine percent of those polled said they considered the Islamic State to be a terrorist organization. Support for the international coalition against the militants is also growing — 80 percent backed the intervention to a large or moderate degree, compared with 75 percent in 2015, the poll showed.

Up ArrowTop