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Security forces announce elimination of Karak terror cell

Four terrorists, 7 security personnel and Canadian national killed, 34 wounded

By Rana Husseini - Dec 19,2016 - Last updated at Dec 19,2016

Ambulances are seen in front of the Italian hospital, where some of the injured were evacuated to after a terror attack, in the city of Karak, on Sunday (Reuters photo)

AMMAN — Four terrorists were killed in a security operation in the southern governorate of Karak that ended towards midnight on Sunday after 10 people were killed in a terror attack, including four police officers and three gendarmes.

Two civilians and a Canadian citizen were also killed, while 34 other civilians and police officers were injured when four gunmen stormed the southern city and fired at security and civilians before heading to Karak Castle, official sources said.

A joint statement by the public security and gendarmerie departments said their personnel were sweeping the area to make sure that there were no other terrorists.

An investigation was opened to identify the gunmen and their affiliation.

The security agencies, which mourned the fallen soldiers and civilians, said that automatic weapons and ammunition were found at the scene in Karak, while explosives, explosive belts and other weapons were seized from a house the terrorists used in Qatraneh, a desert town to the north of Karak. 

The wounded included 11 police officers, four gendarmes, 17 citizens and two holders of foreign nationalities.

The joint statement stressed that the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army and security agencies are fully prepared and on the alert to defend Jordan and respond to those who try to tamper with the country’s security and stability. 

Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani told The Jordan Times earlier that the Kingdom would remain resilient against attempts to disturb its stability and security, extending Jordan’s condolences to the Canadian government over the loss of the Canadian national.

Momani and the police department had also announced earlier that all the civilians who were trapped in Karak Castle when the terrorists withdrew there were freed following a five-hour rescue operation.

Security forces evacuated people who reside near the castle, a resident who preferred anonymity told The Jordan Times.

“The forces closed all main entries to the town and asked residents to stay at home and follow security instructions,” the resident said.

Several videos that circulated on social media on Sunday purportedly showed dozens of residents carrying weapons and “pledging to help security forces fight the terrorists”.

Other video clips captured armoured vehicles and gendarmerie forces as they entered the city heading to the castle.

A second witness, a 23-year-old accountant, said four men entered the city in a vehicle and clashed with police.

“They were firing randomly and many people were injured,” the eyewitness told The Jordan Times over the phone.

“I hid under a vehicle to avoid the flying bullets but several people were injured from the fire exchange between the suspects and the security forces,” the eyewitness, who preferred anonymity, said.

He added that the suspects then headed to the castle and took hostages there. Momani said there was no hostage taking, but rather people were trapped and then freed.

“Several security forces and sharpshooters surrounded the castle, while helicopters hovered over the ancient ruins,” he added.

The PSD issued a statement earlier in the day saying that the incident occurred when a police unit responded to a fire alert that erupted in a house in Qatraneh.

“Unidentified assailants fired at the officers, injuring two of them then fled in a vehicle,” the PSD statement said.

Shortly afterwards, the statement added, the terrorists shot at a police patrol in Karak Governorate followed by shooting at a police station when they took refuge in the castle.

Addressing a Parliament session earlier in the day, Prime Minister Hani Mulki said there was no information on the attackers, describing them as “outlaws”.

 

He said the incident started in town of Qatraneh, north of Karak, when the unknown assailants opened fire from a cafe’s rooftop at a police patrol. Later on, he said, they targeted other patrols in the governorate.

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