Jordan has sealed its northern and eastern borders after six soldiers were killed in a suicide bombing outside a Syrian refugee camp, in a remote area where hundreds have been held for screening over suspected links to Islamic State.
King Abdullah II vowed to hit back “with an iron fist” as officials in Amman said as well as those killed 14 others were injured when an explosives-laden truck was detonated at an army post near Rukban, on the isolated desert border with Syria. The dead and injured were border guards and officials of the public security department.
The suicide bomber drove out from behind a berm and evaded gunfire to reach the post, the army said. The area was later declared a closed military zone.
The border closure is likely to disrupt aid to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees stranded on the frontier. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but Jordan is a leading member of the US-led coalition fighting Isis in Syria and Iraq, and has been the target of jihadi attacks before.
“Such heinous terrorist acts will only make us more determined to carry on with our fight against terrorism and its groups who plotted in the dark against the men who protect the country and its borders,” the king said. The foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, also condemned the attack.
Jordan has kept a low profile politically since the start of the Syrian crisis. It has ensured that rebel military operations against Bashar al-Assad’s government that are carried out from its territory kept a low profile, even when the US and Britain, its closest western allies, were involved.
The worst recent incident was on 6 June, when a gunman killed five Jordanian intelligence officers in a Palestinian refugee camp north of Amman. A suspect was arrested but a gagging order is in place covering details of the attack while the investigation continues.
Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have sought shelter at two remote desert camps in the north-east – one at Rukban and another at Handalat further west.