Four Jordanian policemen killed chasing IS suspects
KARAK - Gunmen killed four Jordanian policemen in a new shootout Tuesday in Karak, where a weekend attack claimed by the Islamic State group left 10 people dead, an official said.
Security forces came under fire during an operation to track down suspects following Sunday's assault, whose victims included a Canadian tourist, government spokesperson Mohammed Momani said.
"The operation is ongoing but has entered its final stages and will end soon," he said late Tuesday.
"One of the terrorists was killed" and a number of them were arrested, he said, without specifying how many.
The security forces went to the house of a suspect after he admitted to links with the group behind Sunday's attack, Momani said.
"The suspect rushed inside his home and slammed the door behind him. He ran to the roof and started shooting, which led to the killing of one of the policeman," he said.
The other three were killed after more gunmen joined the suspect, Momani added.
The general security department said earlier in a statement that police surrounded a house where the gunmen were holed up and that the suspects opened fire on them.
A Jordanian member of parliament from Karak, Haitham Ziadeen, confirmed an operation was under way to arrest wanted gunmen.
- Revenge for air campaign -
"A shootout erupted after security forces arrived to raid a house in the Qarifla region of Karak province, where the gunmen have sought shelter," he said.
Sunday's shooting spree in Karak, home to one of the region's biggest Crusader castles, killed seven policemen and two Jordanian civilians as well as the Canadian tourist.
A total of 34 other people were wounded, including the son of the Canadian holidaymaker and another foreigner, according to authorities.
Four assailants were killed by the Jordanian security forces after an hours-long siege of the Crusader castle, where the suspects had fled after opening fire on police patrols and a police station in the city.
The Islamic State group on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out by four "soldiers of the caliphate" who used machineguns and hand grenades.
A statement said the jihadist assault targeted Jordanian "apostate" security forces and citizens of the US-led coalition battling the jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
IS identified the four dead militants and said the attack was revenge for the US-led coalition's air campaign targeting jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
It also pledged to carry out further assaults on countries within the US-led coalition.
- 'Cowardly attack' -
Jordan is part of the alliance and has carried out air strikes targeting IS. It also hosts coalition troops on its territory.
Maaz al-Kassasbeh, a Jordanian fighter pilot from Karak, was captured by the jihadists when his plane went down in Syria in December 2014, and he was later burned alive in a cage.
King Abdullah II denounced Sunday's shooting spree as a "cowardly terrorist attack", during a visit Tuesday to the police headquarters in Amman.
But he vowed the assault "will not affect the security and stability of Jordan. It will reinforce its will and the criminals will not be able to undermine" the country.
The Canadian foreign ministry confirmed one of its nationals had been killed and another injured in "the heinous attack".
"The government of Canada stands ready to assist Jordan in bringing the perpetrators of this attack to justice," a statement added.
On Monday, Jordanian police said they found suicide belts and other explosives in the hideout of the suspects behind the attack.
IS has claimed previous attacks on Jordan, including in June when a suicide bomber killed seven border guards near the Syrian frontier.
According to sources close to Islamists, almost 4,000 Jordanians have joined jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria, and an estimated 420 have been killed since 2011.