A grenade, carried from Iraq as a souvenir by a Japanese journalist exploded at Amman's Queen Alia International airport on Thursday, killing a security officer and injuring several others, said a security officer.

 

"They opened the suitcase and it exploded and killed one security officer," a source told Reuters, adding the explosion happened next to the luggage-screening machine.

 


 

 

Jordanian security guard an
entrance to Terminal 2

"An employee at the airport was killed in the northern departures terminal building," said Jordan's information minister Mohammad Adwan.

 

"The employee noticed a suspect piece of metal inside the baggage and, as he prepared to examine it closely, it exploded in his hands, killing him instantly," said Adwan.

 

Airport sources had earlier said the baggage was destined for a flight to Tel Aviv.

 

An AFP correspondent, who was leaving from the airport, said Jordanian security forces sealed off the northern terminal, posting three armoured jeeps mounted with machine guns outside.

 

The Japanese embassy was not immediately able to identify the journalist or the media he worked for.

 

"The consul is now at the airport and is trying to get further details," a Japanese diplomat told AFP.

 

Since the fall of Baghdad, Amman has stepped up security checks at its border with Iraq and at all arrival and departure posts across the Kingdom in search for objects stolen from Iraqi museums and presidential palaces.

 

Meanwhile, an American civilian working at a Saudi naval based was shot and injured Thursday, said a defence ministry spokesman.

 

"An unknown person at the King Abdul Aziz naval base in Jubail opened fire against George Babols, an American working for a company...under contract with (Saudi) naval forces," said the spokesman.

 

Jubail is on the oil-rich kingdom's eastern coast.

 

He was taken to a hospital where he is in "good condition," said the ministry spokesman.

 

The attacker fled but was being sought by security forces.

 

The US embassy yesterday issued a warning that groups may be planning attacks against American interests in Saudi Arabia.

 

Washington announced earlier this week it would withdraw most of its troops from Saudi Arabia to neighbouring Qatar. The troops were invited to the kingdom in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait.

 

The US presence has long been opposed by many in the kingdom.