Three police officers were killed in a restive area of southern Jordan on Monday while trying to arrest suspects in last week’s slaying of a police commander. The raid comes a day before French President Emmanuel Macron visits Jordan for the “Baghdad II” conference of Middle Eastern powers plus France.
One suspect was killed, nine others were arrested and a large cache of weapons was found in the operation, which took place about 150 kilometres south of the capital Amman, police said.
The three officers were “martyred in a raid on a terrorist sleeper cell that holds Takfiri ideology”, the police statement said, referring to Islamist militants who accuse Muslims who don’t follow their beliefs of being apostates.
The raid took place four days after unrest over fuel price rises.
Tensions boiled over into riots in the province of Maan and several cities across southern Jordan, in some of the worse unrest seen there in years.
A senior policeman was shot dead on Thursday evening as security forces clashed with crowds.
Security sources, who asked not to be named, told Reuters there was evidence that the group raided on Monday followed the ideology of the Islamic State group and were trying to exploit the unrest to destabilise the country.
This latest wave of violence comes as Jordan prepares to host the “Baghdad II” conference on Tuesday, bringing together Iraq, France and the main players in the Middle East including rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia to defuse regional tensions through dialogue. French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to the Hashemite kingdom to attend the summit.
The Jordanian government has vowed to take tough steps and deploy more anti-riot police against people who protest violently against the squeeze in living conditions.
Police have said more than 40 security personnel were wounded in the clashes where protesters smashed cars, burnt tyres and mounted road blocks to close a highway.
The authorities said they have arrested 44 people in connection with the unrest and more than 200 suspects were wanted in connection with the troubles.
The unrest and a string of other attacks have shaken Jordan, which was comparatively unscathed by the uprisings, civil wars and militant violence that have swept the region since 2011.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP and AP)