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Jordan Says Terrorist Attack Kills 5 At Refugee Camp Near Its Capital

Jordanian anti-terrorism units pass in front of the intelligence services office at the Baqaa refugee camp north of Amman following Monday's terrorist attack.
Jordan Pix
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Jordanian anti-terrorism units pass in front of the intelligence services office at the Baqaa refugee camp north of Amman following Monday's terrorist attack.

An attack on an intelligence office at the Baqaa refugee camp in Jordan today was an act of terrorism, says government spokesman Mohammed Momani. Jordan says five service members were killed: a staff sergeant, two corporals, a lance corporal and a private.

The timing of the attack coincides with the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, which Momani called "a clear evidence of those terrorists' criminal behavior and extremism."

He did not disclose details about the strike on the intelligence office in the camp near Jordan's capital, Amman. Citing a source in Jordan's security apparatus, Agence France-Presse reports that a lone gunman who used an automatic weapon to fire on the office was able to escape the scene.

Momani says an "an intensive investigation into the attack is underway to bring the perpetrators to justice."

Jordan is a key U.S. ally in a region beset by violence and instability. NPR's Greg Myre gives us this analysis:

"For decades, Jordan has had the reputation as the most stable country in a very rough neighborhood. The wars in Iraq and Syria have sent large numbers of refugees flooding into the kingdom since the early 2000s, straining the resources of the poor nation and raising fears that political instability could follow.

"King Abdullah II remains in firm control, but the latest episode demonstrated that Jordan is not immune to the broader turmoil in the region.

"Jordan is a close U.S. ally and works closely with the Americans on security issues. Jordan's security services are considered to be among the best in the region, and terrorist attacks have been rare. The most serious one in recent years was in 2005, when suicide bombers struck at three hotels in the capital, Amman, killing 60 people and wounding more than 100. Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for that attack, which took place at hotels popular among Western tourists, though most of the casualties were Jordanian."

The AFP has this background on the camp in Baqaa:

"The Baqaa camp, where Monday's attack took place, is 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the center of Amman and the largest of the kingdom's 10 official Palestinian refugee camps.

"It hosts around 100,000 of Jordan's 2 million Palestinian refugees, most of whom fled from the West Bank and Gaza Strip after Israel's capture of the territories during the Six-Day War of 1967.

"Baqaa suffers from chronic poverty and high unemployment."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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