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Monday 23 April 2018

Rare militant attack on Jordan security compound kills five

The attack took place in the Palestinian refugee camp of Baqaa
The attack took place in the Palestinian refugee camp of Baqaa

One or more assailants armed with an automatic assault weapon have attacked a local office of Jordan's national intelligence agency, killing four guards and a receptionist in what the government called a "terrorist attack".

Government spokesman Mohammed Momani suggested Islamic militants were involved, describing the attackers as "criminal elements who don't represent our moderate religion".

Those involved remained at large hours after the morning attack, which came on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on the intelligence office on the edge of the Palestinian refugee camp of Baqaa, near the capital, Amman.

Such attacks are relatively rare in Jordan, even though the pro-Western kingdom is on the front line in the military campaign against Islamic State extremists who control large areas of neighboring Syria and Iraq.

The shooting attack took place before 7am, said Mr Momani. He said it involved one or more attackers armed with at least one automatic weapon. They killed four guards and a receptionist, he said.

The targeted security office is a two-story building facing the Baqaa camp, which was established almost half a century ago for Palestinian refugees displaced in the conflict with Israel. The camp has a population of tens of thousands, including many Syrian refugees who have settled there since the start of the Syria conflict in 2011.

A road separates the security compound and the camp.

Several hours after the attack, the access road to the security compound was closed. Security agents were visible outside the building, including masked members of the counter-terrorism squad.

Monday's attack came three months after Jordanian special forces clashed with IS-linked gunmen at a hideout in the northern Jordanian city of Irbid. Seven suspected Islamic State activists and a Jordanian officer were killed. The IS cell had planned attacks on military and civilian targets in the kingdom, officials said.

Over the past two years, since IS group's swift land gains in Syria and Iraq, Jordan has cracked down on suspected sympathisers to prevent the extremists from recruiting inside its borders.

Several hundred Jordanians have been sentenced to prison by special military courts for expressing support for IS on social media.

Jordan is part of the US-led military campaign against Islamic State.

Press Association

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