Three Jor­da­nian in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers killed in at­tack in Pales­tinian refugee camp

Camp out­side Amman is coun­try’s big­gest, hous­ing 70,000


AMMAN (Reuters) – Three Jor­da­nian in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers and two other se­cu­rity per­son­nel were killed in an at­tack on a se­cu­rity of­fice in a Pales­tinian refugee camp out­side the Jor­da­nian cap­i­tal Amman, a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said on Mon­day.

The in­ci­dent at the Baqaa camp, the big­gest of its kind in Jor­dan, jolted the US-backed Arab king­dom, whose rel­a­tive sta­bil­ity has dis­tin­guished it from its pow­er­ful war-rav­aged neigh­bors, Syria to the north and Iraq to the east.

Jor­da­nian tele­vi­sion, quot­ing gov­ern­ment spokesman Mo­ham­mad al-Mo­mani, de­scribed the in­ci­dent in the Baqaa camp as a ter­ror­ist at­tack that took place at 7 a.m.

Mo­mani said the in­tel­li­gence de­part­ment’s lo­cal of­fice in the Baqaa camp - which houses over 70,000 refugees - was tar­geted, and that along­side the three of­fi­cers, a guard and a tele­phone ex­change op­er­a­tor at the of­fice were also killed.

Mo­mani had no de­scrip­tion of the as­sailants, adding only: “Se­cu­rity forces are chas­ing these cul­prits and in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cir­cum­stances of the ter­ror­ist at­tack.”

One of­fi­cial source in touch with a se­cu­rity con­tact told Reuters that an at­tacker drove up to the build­ing and fired at the of­fi­cers with a ma­chine gun be­fore his car sped away.

A large pro­por­tion of Jor­dan’s more than seven mil­lion peo­ple are de­scended from Pales­tinian refugees who fled in the af­ter­math of the creation of Is­rael in 1948.

West­ern donors and po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts warn of grow­ing Is­lamist rad­i­cal­iza­tion in Jor­dan’s im­pov­er­ished refugee camps and in dis­tricts within ma­jor cities laid low by poverty and a lack of eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Dozens have left the sprawl­ing Baqaa camp to join Is­lamist groups fight­ing in Syria and Iraq.

Ear­lier this year, sev­eral Is­lamic State sym­pa­thiz­ers were killed in a shootout with raid­ing se­cu­rity forces in the north­ern Jor­da­nian city of Ir­bid.

Se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties later said they had car­ried out a preemp­tive strike on mil­i­tants linked to Syria who were plan­ning sui­cide at­tacks on shop­ping malls and gov­ern­ment build­ings.

Jor­dan, a US ally for decades and with close se­cu­rity ties with Is­rael, has long been a tar­get of rad­i­cal Sunni Mus­lim fun­da­men­tal­ist groups in­clud­ing al-Qaida and Is­lamic State.

It was among the first re­gional states to join a US-led mil­i­tary cam­paign against Is­lamic State, which seized large ex­panses of Iraq and Syria in 2014-15 but has been pushed back by US- and Rus­sian-backed counter-of­fen­sives this year.

King Ab­dul­lah has re­peat­edly warned that the threat from hard-line Sunni groups poses the big­gest threat to Jor­dan’s long-term sta­bil­ity. Amman has im­pris­oned dozens of hard-line Is­lamists in the last few years, many of whom who came from Syria or were ar­rested while try­ing to cross the bor­der.

Jor­dan’s main po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion, the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, which com­mands a large fol­low­ing within the camp, said the at­tack on Baqaa only served those who sought to sow strife.

“Pre­serv­ing the sta­bil­ity of Jor­dan is a re­li­gious duty and ne­ces­sity,” said the state­ment by the main­stream Is­lamist party.

Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas said the at­tack was “proof of the crim­i­nal be­hav­ior of ter­ror­ist groups” who act against the tenets of Is­lam.

(Muham­mad Hamed/Reuters)

JOR­DA­NIAN SE­CU­RITY ve­hi­cles pa­trol yes­ter­day near the Gen­eral In­tel­li­gence Direc­torate of­fices near the Baqaa refugee camp, north of Amman.

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