AQABA, Jordan -- Attackers firing Katyusha rockets narrowly missed a US amphibious assault ship docked at this Red Sea resort yesterday, but killed a Jordanian soldier in the most serious strike at the Navy since the USS Cole bombing nearly five years ago.
Two more rockets were shot toward nearby Israel without causing serious damage.
Jordanian security forces hunted for at least six Egyptian, Syrian, and Iraqi suspects, and a group linked to Al Qaeda that previously claimed responsibility for terror bombings in three Egyptian resorts said it staged the attack here.
The string of attacks over 10 months has raised fears Islamic extremists are opening a new arena of combat in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and the Gulf of Aqaba, an area bordered by Israel, Egypt, and Jordan that is known for carefree tourist resorts and Arab-Israeli peace talks.
In addition to striking US targets, some extremist Muslims would like to topple the governments of Jordan and Egypt, which are longtime allies of Washington and also have peace treaties with Israel.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a militant group that claimed to be behind bombings that killed at least 64 people at Sharm el-Sheik in July and 34 people at two other Egyptian resorts last October, posted a statement on the Internet saying its fighters fired the rockets yesterday.
''A group of our holy warriors . . . targeted a gathering of American military ships docking in Aqaba port," said the statement, which also threatened to bring down King Abdullah II of Jordan.
One rocket sailed over the bow of the USS Ashland about 8:44 a.m., Lieutenant Commander Charlie Brown, a spokesman for the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, said.
The missile hit a nearby Jordanian military warehouse that US forces use to store goods bound for Iraq, Jordanian officials said. The blast killed one Jordanian soldier and wounded another, the state Petra news agency reported. No Americans were injured.
Brown said the Ashland had docked on Aug. 13 with the helicopter carrier USS Kearsarge at Aqaba's port, south of the city, for joint exercises with Jordan's military. Both vessels left after the attack as a precaution, he said.
The vessels, which are based in Norfolk, Va., carried elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune, N.C. It was unknown how many Marines and sailors were on board, but the Ashland can carry up to 400 sailors and 500 Marines and the Kearsarge 1,100 crew and 1,900 Marines.
Commander Jeff Breslau, another Fifth Fleet spokesman, said he knew of no specific warnings of imminent attack, but he said US warships in the Middle East always operate under increased security.
He said the Navy assumed the rocket was fired at the US ships and missed, but authorities had not confirmed that. Several civilian cargo ships were docked nearby.
The Bush administration condemned the attack.
''We are investigating the matter and will cooperate with local Jordanian officials on the attacks," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, who was with the vacationing President Bush in Crawford, Texas.
It was the most serious attack involving a Navy vessel since October 2000, when militants linked to Al Qaeda rammed a boat loaded with explosives into the destroyer Cole off Yemen, killing 17 sailors and severely damaging the vessel.