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      US Issues Travel Warning to Aqaba

      US Embassy in Amman issues unusual warning against visits to Jordanian port city.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 9/16/2010, 3:47 AM / Last Update: 9/16/2010, 3:44 AM

      In a strong and unusual warning, the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan warned on Wednesday against travel to Aqaba, citing “credible information” that has been received about a possible imminent threat in the region.

      Aqaba, located in the south of Jordan, is its only seaport. It is a major tourist attraction in Jordan due to its beach resorts and luxury hotels. Tourists typically go to Aqaba to take part in watersport activities such as windsurfing and scuba diving.

      The US Embassy warned US citizens to avoid the downtown and port areas of the city of Aqaba, and recommended that all non-official and personal travel to Aqaba be deferred for at least 48 hours. No details about the nature of the imminent threat in the area were given.

      Last month, Aqaba was hit by a rocket that was fired by terrorists from the Sinai Peninsula. The rocket exploded next to a local hotel, killing one person and wounding four others. The Israeli city of Eilat was also hit by rockets during the same attack.

      Following the rocket attacks, the US State Department issued a travel warning to Eilat, asking American visitors to the city to make sure they “ascertain the location of the nearest bomb shelter.” Aqaba, however, was not mentioned in this travel advisory, despite the fact that it was also hit by rockets.

      Israel's Tourism Ministry immediately complained about the failure to mention Aqaba, and the travel warning was changed two days later, asking that American tourists in southern Israel “be aware of the risks and should follow the advice of the Government of Israel's office of Home Front Command.”

      Jordan's Information Minister Ali Ayed insisted there were no threats in the region. Speaking to AFP, Ayed said: “In line with the Jordanian security apparatuses' estimates, the security situation is stable and there are no threats in the country, including Aqaba. Jordan depends on its security apparatuses in evaluating the security situation on its territories.”

      Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau said that Israel has not changed its travel advisory to Aqaba, and that a travel warning that has already been issued for Jordan is still in effect.