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Al Qaeda Claim for Red Sea Attacks

(CNN) -- An al Qaeda-linked group has claimed responsibility for rocket attacks Friday that targeted but missed two U.S. military ships in the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba.

The three Katyusha rockets hit a warehouse and a hospital in Aqaba, killing a Jordanian soldier, and struck the nearby Israeli port city of Eilat.

A second Jordanian soldier was severely wounded. No U.S. military personnel were injured.

"Zionists are our rightful target," according to the statement signed by al Qaeda in Levant and Egypt, the Martyr Abdallah Azzam Brigades.

The statement, posted on an Islamist Web site, promised an attack in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.

"We bombed them in Taba and we attacked them today in Eilat and we will shake them up in Tal Al-Rabih (Tel Aviv in Arabic), God willing," the statement said, according to a translation.

CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the claim.

The Martyr Abdallah Azzam Brigades is one of several groups that claimed responsibility for the October 2004 attacks in the Sinai, Egypt tourist resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan. Those attacks killed 34 people.

On Friday, three rockets were fired from a warehouse in Aqaba close to the port, a Jordanian government statement said. The warehouse had been rented a few days ago by four people of Iraqi and Egyptian descent.

The casualties occurred when one rocket flew over the bow of the USS Ashland and struck a warehouse used by the Jordanian military, officials said.

"At approximately 8:44 a.m. local time, a suspected mortar rocket flew over the USS Ashland's bow and impacted in a warehouse on the pier in the vicinity of the Ashland and USS Kearsarge," according to a statement from U.S. Central Command.

"The warehouse sustained an approximate 8-foot hole in the roof of the building."

A second missile landed near a military hospital in Aqaba, and the third landed in the neighboring Israeli Red Sea port city of Eliat, the Jordanian government said.

The third rocket partially exploded, Israeli military sources said, damaging a road and a car. It fell on a road just east of the city's airport. No injuries were reported.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said the two countries were cooperating in the investigation.

The ships were in port so sailors could train with regional partners, U.S. Navy Commander Jeff Breslau told CNN. "It's very unusual for U.S. ships to be under attack in this part of the region."

Security forces sealed off the area of the port near the warehouse. Breslau said the U.S. military ships subsequently left the port.

Marines from the 26th Expeditionary Unit were on board the ships "in support of the global war on terrorism (and) Operation Iraqi Freedom," Breslau said.

The massive 844-feet, 40,500-ton USS Kearsarge is staffed with nearly 2,000 Marines and more than 1,000 sailors, according to its Web site.

The smaller 609-feet, 16,000-ton USS Ashland carries more than 400 Marines and more than 400 sailors.

CNN Senior Arab Affairs Editor Octavia Nasr, CNNArabic.com Editor Caroline Faraj and CNN Producers Arwa Damon and Michal Zippori contributed to this report.


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