AMMAN (AFP) – A Jordanian airport security employee was killed and three others injured when a device carried in the baggage of a Japanese journalist exploded, the country’s information minister told AFP.
“A security employee at (Queen Alia International) airport was killed in the northern departures terminal building and three others were injured,” Mohamad Adwan said.
Adwan said all the casualties were security personnel, and that one of the wounded was in serious condition.
“The blast occurred as the baggage was in a search and control area in the terminal that services foreign companies,” he said, confirming statements made earlier by an airport official.
“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,” Adwan said.
The explosive device was inside a bag belonging to a “Japanese journalist who had brought back the object as well as other artefacts from Baghdad, but was unaware it was an explosive,” Adwan said.
Adwan identified the journalist as Hiroki Gomi of the Japanese newspaper Mainichi and said he “is detained for interrogation”.
“He has told investigators that he bought the explosive device from Iraqis in Baghdad to take home as a souvenir from the war,” Adwan said.
The journalist was bound on an EgyptAir flight to Cairo, Adwan said, contradicting earlier reports from airport sources who said the incriminating baggage was destined for a flight to Tel Aviv.
The Japanese embassy was not immediately able to confirm the journalist’s identity.
“The consul is now with him at the airport and is trying to get further details,” a Japanese diplomat told AFP.
An AFP correspondent who was leaving from the airport said Jordanian security forces had sealed off the northern terminal, posting three armoured vehicles mounted with machine guns outside.
Fifteen to 20 plainclothed policemen deployed inside the building, where blood stains were splattered across the floor near the metal detector and racks where travellers must place their bags.
Since the fall of Baghdad on April 9, Jordan 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.
On Thursday the official Petra news agency reported that a family album belonging to former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was among a treasure trove of items confiscated by customs officials at the Al Karama border with Iraq.
Ancient artefacts, including a wooden helmet inscribed with the name of the Prophet Mohammad, antique history books, paintings and rugs were among the items seized over the past two weeks, Petra quoted customs officials as saying.