Jordan closed its borders with Iraq and Syria late Tuesday, cutting off its last open gate to Syrian refugees in the wake of a suicide bombing that killed six soldiers. The move has raised humanitarian concerns about the tens of thousands stranded in the desert and dependent on deliveries of food and water from Jordan, but Amman said its citizens' safety is the first priority.
"The border will be closed," government spokesman Mohammed Momani told the press. "We will not allow the crossing of people or vehicles through that area."
King Abdullah II said in a statement that Jordan will "respond with an iron fist" to anyone threatening its security.
Tuesday's attack near the Ruqban border camp is the third such incident at Jordanian security facilities in seven months. Together with those in the nearby Hadalat camp, some 64,000 displaced Syrians live along the border, dependent on Jordanian aid. The kingdom hosts some 655,000 refugees from the conflict, but has restricted access for new arrivals, citing the need for full background checks.
An assailant drove a truck loaded with explosives through an opening at the border, killing the driver, six soldiers, and wounding 14 others at an army post.
While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Momani said "Islamic State" (IS) extremists had been mixing with refugees at the two camps, creating a major security threat.
The government spokesman added that the Jordanian military was in talks with the UN refugee agency to discuss how they could continue delivering much-needed aid to those stranded at the border.
es/kms (AP, Reuters)