Thursday 22 February 2018

Tourist among 10 killed in shoot-out at historic castle

A Jordanian policeman stands guard near the castle. Photo: REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
A Jordanian policeman stands guard near the castle. Photo: REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Omar Akour Jordan

At least 10 people, including one tourist, died after a shoot-out with gunmen at a medieval castle in Jordan yesterday.

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 yesterday, several hours after the first shooting.

Shots could still be heard at the scene last night 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 tourist, a woman from Canada, could further hurt Jordan's tourism sector, which has declined sharply since Isil 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 120km 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.

The officers responding to the call came under fire from inside the house. 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 Isil 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 Isil.

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 shoot-out with suspected Isil sympathisers in a northern Jordanian town.

Irish Independent

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