4 po­lice­men killed in new shootout in Jor­dan

IS claims week­end Karak attack

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Gun­men killed four Jor­da­nian po­lice­men in a new shootout yes­ter­day in Karak, where a week­end attack claimed by the Is­lamic State group left 10 peo­ple dead, a se­cu­rity source said. Se­cu­rity forces came un­der fire af­ter launch­ing a raid to track down sus­pects fol­low­ing Sun­day’s as­sault, whose vic­tims in­cluded a Cana­dian tourist, the source said, ad­ding that the op­er­a­tion was still on­go­ing. But an­other se­nior se­cu­rity source quoted by the of­fi­cial Pe­tra news agency said that the sus­pects were not linked to the “ter­ror­ist group” be­hind Sun­day’s attack.

The gen­eral se­cu­rity depart­ment said in a state­ment that po­lice sur­rounded a house where the gun­men were holed up and that the sus­pects opened fire on them. A Jor­da­nian mem­ber of par­lia­ment from Karak, Haitham Zi­adeen, con­firmed that an op­er­a­tion was un­der way to ar­rest wanted gun­men. “A shootout erupted af­ter se­cu­rity forces ar­rived to raid a house in the Qar­i­fla re­gion of Karak prov­ince, where the gun­men have sought shelter,” he said.

Sun­day’s shoot­ing spree in Karak, home to one of the re­gion’s big­gest Cru­sader cas­tles, killed seven po­lice­men and two Jor­da­nian civil­ians as well as the Cana­dian tourist. A to­tal of 34 other peo­ple were wounded, in­clud­ing the son of the Cana­dian hol­i­day­maker and an­other for­eigner, ac­cord­ing to author­i­ties. Four as­sailants were killed by the Jor­da­nian se­cu­rity forces af­ter an hours-long siege of the Cru­sader cas­tle, where the sus­pects had fled af­ter open­ing fire on po­lice pa­trols and a po­lice sta­tion in the city.

The Is­lamic State group yes­ter­day claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the attack, say­ing it was car­ried out by four “sol­diers of the caliphate” who used ma­chine-guns and hand grenades. A state­ment said the ji­hadist as­sault tar­geted Jor­da­nian “apos­tate” se­cu­rity forces and cit­i­zens of the US-led coali­tion bat­tling the ji­hadists in Syria and Iraq.

Re­venge for air cam­paign

IS iden­ti­fied the four dead mil­i­tants and said the attack was re­venge for the US-led coali­tion’s air cam­paign tar­get­ing ji­hadists in Syria and Iraq. It also pledged to carry out fur­ther as­saults on coun­tries within the US-led coali­tion. Jor­dan is part of the al­liance and has car­ried out air strikes tar­get­ing IS. It also hosts coali­tion troops on its ter­ri­tory.

Maaz Al-Kas­sas­beh, a Jor­da­nian fighter pi­lot from Karak, was cap­tured by the ji­hadists when his plane went down in Syria in De­cem­ber 2014, and he was later burned alive in a cage. King Ab­dul­lah II de­nounced Sun­day’s shoot­ing spree as a “cow­ardly ter­ror­ist attack”, dur­ing a visit Tues­day to the po­lice head­quar­ters in Am­man. But he vowed that the as­sault “will not af­fect the se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity of Jor­dan. It will re­in­force its will and the crim­i­nals will not be able to un­der­mine” the coun­try.

The Cana­dian for­eign min­istry con­firmed that one of its na­tion­als had been killed and an­other in­jured in “the heinous attack”. “The gov­ern­ment of Canada stands ready to as­sist Jor­dan in bring­ing the per­pe­tra­tors of this attack to jus­tice,” a state­ment added. On Mon­day, Jor­da­nian po­lice said they found sui­cide belts and other ex­plo­sives in the hide­out of the sus­pects be­hind the attack. IS has claimed pre­vi­ous at­tacks on Jor­dan, in­clud­ing in June when a sui­cide bomber 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.

Jor­dan writer killer sen­tenced to death

Mean­while, a Jor­da­nian court yes­ter­day sen­tenced to death an Is­lamist man ac­cused of killing a Chris­tian writer out­side an Am­man court in Septem­ber over a car­toon deemed of­fen­sive to Is­lam. Na­hed Hat­tar was hit by three bul­lets on the steps of the court where he had been on trial for in­sult­ing Is­lam af­ter he shared a car­toon on so­cial me­dia that mocked Is­lamists.

His 49-year-old killer, Riyad Is­mail, a com­puter en­gi­neer who worked for the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry, was ar­rested at the scene and charged with pre­med­i­tated mur­der, ter­ror­ism and pos­ses­sion of an il­le­gal firearm. Yes­ter­day Is­mail ap­peared be­fore the mil­i­tary court, bearded, hand­cuffed and wear­ing a brown prison uni­form to hear the judge at the state se­cu­rity court sen­tence him to “death by hang­ing”.

Judge Ziad Al-Ed­wan said he was sen­tenced “for hav­ing car­ried out deadly ter­ror­ist act, in­cite­ment, pre­med­i­tated mur­der and il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of a firearm.” Is­mail re­sponded by say­ing: “Al­lah suf­fices me be­cause he is the best dis­poser of af­fairs”-a tra­di­tional Mus­lim phrase used by peo­ple who feel they have been wronged and con­sider that only God’s judg­ment counts.

The court also sen­tenced the man who sold Is­mail the gun and the man who in­tro­duced him to the weapon mer­chant to one year in jail each. Hat­tar, a 56-year-old leftist writer, had been ar­rested on Au­gust 13 af­ter post­ing a car­toon on Face­book un­der the ti­tle “God of Daesh” (the Is­lamic State ji­hadist group). He was later re­leased on bail. — Agen­cies

KARAK: Jor­da­nian se­cu­rity forces guard an en­trance, left, as boys walk past in the morn­ing mist in front of Karak Cas­tle. — AP

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