Tuesday 20 August 2019

10 killed including Canadian tourist in Jordan gun attacks

The attacks occurred in and near the town of Karak, Jordan
The attacks occurred in and near the town of Karak, Jordan

Gunmen have ambushed Jordanian police in a series of attacks, including at a Crusader castle popular with tourists, killing seven officers, two local civilians and a woman visiting from Canada.

At least 27 people were also injured in one of the bloodiest attacks in the country in recent memory.

A stand-off between Jordanian special forces and armed men holed up inside the castle continued after nightfall on Sunday, several hours after the first shooting. Government officials declined to comment on local news reports that the attackers had taken hostages who were later freed.

Shots could still be heard at the scene on Sunday evening, and security forces fired tear gas to flush out the gunmen.

The shootings were the latest in a series of attacks that have challenged the pro-Western kingdom's claim to be an oasis of calm in a region threatened by Islamic extremists.

The killing of the Canadian tourist could further hurt Jordan's embattled tourism sector, which has declined sharply since the Islamic State group seized large parts of neighbouring Syria and Iraq two years ago.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks in and near the central town of Karak, about 87 miles south of the capital Amman.

The chain of events began when a police patrol received reports of a house fire in the town of Qatraneh in the Karak district, Jordan's Public Security Directorate said in a statement.

The officers responding to the call came under fire from inside the house, the statement said. Two policemen were injured and the assailants fled in a car.

In another attack, gunmen fired on a security patrol in Karak, causing no injuries.

Jordan faces home-grown extremism, with hundreds of Jordanians fighting alongside other Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria and several thousand more supporting the extremist group in the kingdom. Jordan is a key US ally, and a member of a US-led military coalition fighting IS.

Over the past year, gunmen have carried out several attacks on members of the Jordanian security forces and foreign trainers. Earlier this year, Jordanian security forces engaged in a deadly shootout with suspected IS sympathisers in a northern Jordanian town.

In the most recent incident, three US military members were killed in a shooting outside an air base in southern Jordan in November. The three were in Jordan on a training mission, and came under fire while driving into the base.


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