Jordan shooting ambushes kill 10, including Canadian tourist

By , , on December 19, 2016


KARAK, Jordan—Gunmen ambushed Jordanian police in a series of attacks Sunday, including at a Crusader castle popular with tourists, killing a woman visiting from Canada, seven officers and two local civilians, officials said.

At least 34 people were wounded in one of the bloodiest attacks in Jordan in recent memory. The Canadian government said a second Canadian was among the injured, but didn’t immediately have any further detail.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion offered the government’s condolences to the victims’ families.

Security officials said in a statement late Sunday that at least four gunmen were killed and that troops continued to search the area. The statement said large amounts of weapons had been seized. It made no reference to local media reports that at one point, the attackers had held hostages.

The shootings were the latest in a series of attacks that have challenged this pro-Western kingdom’s claim to be an oasis of calm in a region threatened by Islamic extremists.

The killing of the Canadian tourist, who was not immediately identified, could further hurt Jordan’s embattled tourism sector, which has declined sharply since the Islamic State group seized large parts of neighbouring Syria and Iraq two years ago.

After the attack, the Canadian embassy in Jordan tweeted a warning to Canadians, advising them against all travel to Karak until further notice.

The federal government said in an emailed statement Sunday afternoon that Canadian officials were working with local authorities to gather information.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks in and near the central town of Karak, about 140 kilometres 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, said a statement by Jordan’s Public Security Directorate.

The officers responding to the call came under fire from inside the house, the statement said. Two policemen were wounded and the assailants fled in a car, it said.

In another attack, gunmen fired on a security patrol in Karak, causing no injuries, the statement said.

Armed men also opened fire on a police station in Karak Castle, a Crusader fort, wounding members of the security forces. The statement said five or six gunmen were believed to be holed up inside the castle.

In all, seven members of the security forces, two local civilians and the tourist from Canada were killed, security officials said. Twenty-seven people were wounded.

Jordan faces homegrown extremism, with hundreds of Jordanians fighting alongside other Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria and several thousand more supporting the extremist group in the kingdom. Jordan is a key U.S. ally, and a member of a U.S.-led military coalition fighting IS.

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 shootout with suspected IS sympathizers in a northern Jordanian town.

In the most recent incident, three U.S. military members were killed in a shooting outside an air base in southern Jordan in November. The three were in Jordan on a training mission, and came under fire while driving into the base.