Cana­dian tourist among 10 killed in Jor­dan at­tacks

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

AMMAN: Gun­men killed 10 peo­ple in­clud­ing a Cana­dian tourist and po­lice of­fi­cers yes­ter­day in south­ern Jor­dan where se­cu­rity forces were hunt­ing down the uniden­ti­fied at­tack­ers. The shoot­ings took place in Karak, a tourist des­ti­na­tion known for one of the big­gest Cru­sader cas­tles in the re­gion, around 120 km south of the cap­i­tal Amman. Jor­dan’s gen­eral se­cu­rity depart­ment said seven po­lice­men, a fe­male Cana­dian tourist and two Jor­da­nian civil­ians were killed in a se­ries of shoot­ings. It said that 27 oth­ers, in­clud­ing po­lice­men and civil­ians, were wounded. A sep­a­rate po­lice state­ment said that “a num­ber of out­laws who com­mit­ted ugly crimes this af­ter­noon” had been killed and that se­cu­rity forces were comb­ing the Cru­sader cas­tle for more gun­men.

HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable of con­do­lences yes­ter­day to King Ab­dul­lah II of Jor­dan. The Amir ex­pressed his sin­cere con­do­lences and sor­row over the tragic shoot­ing at­tack in Karak. He con­firmed Kuwait’s strong con­dem­na­tion and re­jec­tion of such ter­ror­ist acts which tar­geted in­no­cent lives, re­it­er­at­ing Kuwait’s full sol­i­dar­ity with the king­dom and sup­port of all mea­sures by the Jor­da­nian gov­ern­ment to pre­serve the safety and sta­bil­ity of the coun­try.

HH the Amir also prayed to Allah Almighty to be­stow his mercy on the dead, and grant the wounded speedy re­cov­ery. HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf AlAh­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and HH the Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Ha­mad Al-Sabah sent sim­i­lar ca­bles to the Jor­da­nian monarch.

The first at­tack took place when a po­lice pa­trol went to check on a fire that had bro­ken out in a house in Karak, the gen­eral se­cu­rity depart­ment said. “As soon as they reached the area, un­known gun­men who were inside the house opened fire on the pa­trol, wound­ing a po­lice­man, and then fled by car,” it said in a state­ment car­ried by the of­fi­cial Pe­tra news agency. “Shortly af­ter­wards, gun­men opened fire on an­other pa­trol with­out caus­ing any ca­su­al­ties,” it added.

At the same time, gun­men in the Cru­sader cas­tle opened fire on the Karak po­lice sta­tion, “wound­ing sev­eral po­lice­men and passers-by” who were rushed to hospi­tal. “Po­lice and se­cu­rity forces have sur­rounded the cas­tle and its vicin­ity and launched an op­er­a­tion to hunt down the gun­men,” the state­ment said, adding that the search was still un­der way.

A se­nior se­cu­rity source said some peo­ple were trapped in a lower floor of the citadel when the gun­men took shel­ter there, but de­nied me­dia re­ports that they were be­ing held hostage. “There are no hostages. But some peo­ple who were on a lower floor were afraid of leav­ing as the gun­men traded fire with the se­cu­rity forces,” said the source who did not wish to be iden­ti­fied. He said that the gun­men were on a higher level inside the fortress.

The Jor­dan Tourism Board de­scribed the Karak citadel, which dates back to the 12th cen­tury and has with­stood many sieges, as a “maze of stone-vaulted halls and end­less pas­sage­ways”. The gen­eral se­cu­rity depart­ment state­ment said “five or six gun­men” were thought to be in­volved in the shoot­ings. How­ever, Prime Min­is­ter Hani Al-Malki, who was ad­dress­ing par­lia­ment at the time of the shoot­ings, said that “spe­cial forces and po­lice­men are sur­round­ing 10 gun­men holed up inside the Karak citadel”.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear who was be­hind the shoot­ings, but Jor­dan has been hit by at­tacks in the past. Jor­dan is a lead­ing mem­ber of the US-led coali­tion fight­ing the Is­lamic State group in neigh­bor­ing Iraq and Syria. It has car­ried out air strikes tar­get­ing IS, and also hosts coali­tion troops on its ter­ri­tory. Maaz Al-Kas­sas­beh, a Jor­da­nian fighter pi­lot, was cap­tured by the ji­hadists when his plane went down in Syria in Dec 2014, and he was later burned alive in a cage. Karak is Kas­sas­beh’s home­town.

In June, a sui­cide bomb­ing claimed by IS killed seven bor­der guards near the Syr­ian fron­tier. Ac­cord­ing to sources close to Is­lamists, al­most 4,000 Jor­da­ni­ans have joined ji­hadist groups in Iraq and Syria, and an es­ti­mated 420 have been killed since 2011.

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