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 main suspect was also killed in the gun battle, authorities said.
The shootout took place near the town of Maan, where Abdul Razzaq Abdel Hafez Al Dalabeh, a local deputy police director, was killed last week. The region is an impoverished and marginalized area of the country with high unemployment. In the past, there were expressions of support for the militant Islamic State group in the area.
Jordanian police said nine suspects were arrested, allegedly members of what they called a terrorist cell with “takfiri ideology,” a term used to describe Islamic extremists.
The Public Security Directorate said officers surrounded the location of the suspects in the killing of the commander. One suspect “fired heavy bullets from an automatic weapon,” and the officers returned fire, the statement also said. It added that officers seized “automatic firearms and a large amount of ammunition.”
State-run al-Mamlaka TV broadcast footage of the raid's aftermath, showing a decrepit house in the Husseiniya area of Maan with its doors smashed, windows shattered and surfaces riddled with dozens of bullet holes. The siege on the house left casings scattered around and blood splattered across the cinderblock walls.
The arrests followed some of the worst unrest the kingdom has seen in recent years, after truck drivers launched a strike over soaring fuel prices. Strikes and protests spread to several cities across Jordan and demonstrators clashed with police last Thursday.
Police said Dalabeh was shot by “outlaws” during clashes in Maan. In the aftermath, Jordan issued a "temporary ban" on the social media platform TikTok and King Abdullah II pledged to “deal firmly” with the alleged perpetrators.
Jordan's church leaders on Monday cancelled all Christmas and New Year celebrations during what they described as a time of national grief. The country's church committee asked citizens to limit their commemorations of the holidays to religious rituals out of respect for the dead and their mourning families.
Jordan is a close Western ally and has long been seen as an island of stability in a turbulent region.