Four Jordanian policemen killed in clashes with gunmen near Karak - security source | Reuters

 Four Jordanian policemen killed in clashes with gunmen near Karak - security source
| Reuters

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi
| AMMAN

AMMAN Four Jordanian policemen were killed in clashes with Islamist militants during a raid on a village near the southern city of Karak on Tuesday, a security source said.The violence occurred two days after a shootout between police and gunmen holed up inside a Crusader castle near Karak. Ten people including a Canadian tourist were killed. Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the violence.A Jordanian police source said Tuesday's clashes took place in a house where suspects linked to the four militants involved in the castle bloodshed were believed to be sheltering. 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.Police said late on Sunday they had killed four "terrorist outlaws" after flushing them out of the castle where they were holed up after an exchange of fire that lasted several hours. Security forces were able to release around 10 tourists unharmed. At least 30 people were taken to hospital.

Security forces then launched a widescale manhunt to track down the militants' support network. Jordanian officials have not publicly confirmed whether the four slain gunmen were militants. But they said that a large cache of weapons, ammunitions and several suicide belts were discovered in a hideout in a home in the desert town of Qatranah, 30 km (20 miles) northeast of Karak.

Security sources said the gunmen were all Jordanian nationals. Interior Minister Salamah Hamad said on Monday that the four had fled from the Qatranah area to Karak after an exchange of fire with the police. Based on the quantities of explosives and weapons, "I don't think the target was just Karak castle, it's more," he added. He would not elaborate, saying disclosing details at this stage could imperil national security.Jordan has been relatively unscathed by the uprisings, civil wars and Islamist militancy that have swept the Middle East since 2011, but maintains a high level of vigilance.

However, it is among the few Arab states that have taken part in a U.S.-led air campaign against Islamic State militants holding territory in Syria and Iraq. Many Jordanians oppose their country's involvement, saying it has led to the killing of fellow Muslims and raised security threats inside Jordan.Last November three U.S. military trainers were shot dead when their car was fired on by a Jordanian army member at the gate of a military base. Washington disputed the official Jordanian version that they were shot at for failing to stop, and said it did not rule out political motives. (Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Updated Date: Dec 21, 2016 00:01:48 IST