Jordan Forces End Castle Siege After Deadly Shootout

Jordanian policemen operate in the vicinity of Karak Castle, where armed gunmen carried out an attack, in the city of Karak, Jordan, on Dec. 18.Jordanian policemen operate in the vicinity of Karak Castle, where armed gunmen carried out an attack, in the city of Karak, Jordan, on Dec. 18.

Jordanian security forces said they killed four “terrorist outlaws” after flushing them out of a castle in the southern city of Karak where they had holed up after a shootout that killed nine people.

An official statement said the four assailants, who shot at police targets in the town before heading to the Crusader-era castle, carried automatic weapons. Large quantities of explosives, weapons and suicide belts were seized in a hideout, the statement said.

It made no mention of their identity or whether they belonged to any militant group, raising speculation they could have been tribal outlaws with a vengeance against the state rather than self-styled Islamic State terrorists who control parts of neighboring Syria and Iraq.

According to Reuters, a Canadian woman, three other civilians and five police officers were among the nine killed during the exchange of gunfire between the assailants and security forces.

At least 29 people were hospitalized, some with serious injuries.

Earlier, government spokesman, Mohammad al-Momani, said a manhunt to “eliminate” the gunmen had entered its final phase.

“Jordan’s position made it vulnerable to spillover of violence,” he said.

“When we are in a region engulfed with fire from every side, you expect that such events happen.”

Witnesses said exchanges of fire continued for several hours between the gunmen and security forces. Police said earlier they had rescued 10 tourists trapped inside the historical site when the gunmen went into the castle.

A former government minister from Karak city, Sameeh Maaytah, said, “This was a group that was plotting certain operations inside Jordan.”

Video footage on social media showed security forces taking groups of young Asian tourists up the castle’s steep steps to its main entrance as gunshots were heard overhead.

The castle is one of Jordan’s most popular tourist attractions.

Police and witnesses said gunmen had earlier gone on a shooting spree aimed at officers patrolling the town before entering the castle, perched on top of a hill. They used one of the castle’s towers to fire at a nearby police station.

Police said the gunmen had arrived from the desert town of Qatraneh nearly 30 km northeast of Karak city, a desert outpost known for smuggling, where many tribal residents are heavily armed and have long resisted state authority.

They had fled to Karak after an exchange of fire with the police at a residential building, security forces said.


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