AMMAN: Four policemen were killed Tuesday in an exchange of fire with wanted men in a central Jordanian province where assailants had killed 10 people in a series of ambushes earlier this week, state media said.
Several wanted men were killed and others arrested after the firefight in the province of Karak, the official news agency Petra reported. The report did not say how many of the alleged fugitives had been killed.
State media said police officers came under fire during a raid of a suspected hideout of fugitives. Petra said the cell targeted Tuesday was not connected to those involved in Sunday’s attacks in Karak.
At least 11 people, mostly security personnel, were wounded in the clashes that were continuing in the village of Al-Waysa, a security source said. Earlier Tuesday, Daesh (ISIS) claimed responsibility for Sunday’s shootings which killed nine Jordanians and a tourist from Canada.
Sunday’s shootings were the bloodiest in Jordan in recent memory and raised new concerns about the rise of Islamist militancy in the pro-Western kingdom. Jordan plays a key role in the U.S.-led military campaign against Daesh.
The back-to-back violent clashes between security forces and armed men this week undermine the kingdom’s claim to be an oasis of stability in a region increasingly threatened by Islamist extremists.
Sunday’s shootings took place in the town of Qatraneh in Karak province and in the provincial capital of Karak city.
Hours after an initial attack on a police patrol in Qatraneh, four gunmen were killed by Jordanian security forces during a standoff at Karak Castle, a Crusader fortress and popular tourist destination.
Interior Minister Salamah Hamad said Monday that based on the quantities of explosives and weapons, he didn’t think “the target was just Karak castle, it’s more.” He would not elaborate, saying disclosing details at this stage could imperil national security.
Daesh claim of responsibility was published Tuesday on “Shumoukh al-Islam,” a password-protected website affiliated with the group.
The statement said that “four soldiers of the caliphate” armed with machine guns and hand grenades carried out the attacks, killing 10 “apostates.” It said the four Daesh fighters were engaged in “fierce clashes lasting several hours” with Jordanian forces before being killed.
The statement threatened more attacks in anti-Daesh coalition member states. “We promise the Crusader coalition countries something worse and more severe” it said.
Jordanian officials have refused to identify the attackers.
Seven members of the Jordanian security forces, two local bystanders and the Canadian tourist were killed in the attacks which also left 34 people wounded.
Jordan has been facing homegrown extremism; hundreds of Jordanians are fighting alongside other Daesh militants in Iraq and Syria and several thousand more are believed to support the militant group in the kingdom.
Earlier this year, Daesh claimed responsibility for a deadly cross-border attack from Syria on a Jordanian border post.