15 killed in Jordan shootings

Amman, Dec 19 (IANS) At least 15 persons were killed in a series of shootouts between Jordanian police and a group of gunmen, Jordan’s homeland security department said in a statement.

Seven policemen, two Jordanian civilians, one Canadian tourist and four gunmen were killed, while 27 others were wounded, on Sunday, Efe news agency reported on Monday.

The shootings took place in the southern Jordanian city of Karak where the gunmen were holed up in a historic citadel.

An unspecified number of attackers holed themselves up, the statement said, describing them as “terrorists and outlaws”, although it did not link the gunmen to any particular group.

The department confirmed that four “terrorist” gunmen were shot dead and security forces continued combing operations in the area for other potential attackers.

Security sources, however, did not rule out the possibility that the attackers could belong to the terrorist Islamic State (IS) group.

The Department of Homeland Security had previously reported that there were five or six attackers hiding in the Karak citadel, about 120 km south of the Jordanian capital, Amman.

The Karak citadel is a Crusader castle built in the Middle Ages and is a well-known tourist attraction in Jordan.

Security sources told Efe that the gunmen were surrounded and that shots were exchanged when policemen in several patrol cars tried to arrest them.

Jordanian Prime Minister Hani al-Mulqui confirmed the deaths of some “members of the security forces”.

Another attack was also carried out in Karak governorate against another patrol, although no casualties were reported.

Jordan till now had remained relatively stable and had not suffered terror attacks in comparison to neighbouring country like Syria.

However fears were growing that the IS could target Jordan next as it was a key US ally and a member of the US-led military coalition.