At least 14 people including a Canadian and police officers were killed on Sunday in a security operation in the southern governorate of Karak. Seven officers, two local civilians and a woman visiting from Canada and 4 terrorists were killed, while, 22 other civilians and police officers were injured when four gunmen stormed the southern city and fired at security and civilians before heading to the Karak Castle.
A separate police statement said that “a number of outlaws who committed ugly crimes this afternoon” had been killed and that security forces were combing the Crusader castle for more gunmen.
Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani told The Jordan Times that the Kingdom will 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.
Several armed men were reported barricaded inside the castle after nightfall, hemmed in by Special Forces soldiers.
The first attack took place when a police patrol went to check on a fire that had broken out in a house in Karak. The general security department said in a statement, “As soon as they reached the area, unknown gunmen who were inside the house opened fire on the patrol, wounding a policeman, and then fled by car.”
“Shortly afterwards, gunmen opened fire on another patrol without causing any casualties,” it added. At the same time, gunmen in the Crusader castle opened fire on the Karak police station, “wounding several policemen and passers-by” who were rushed to hospital. “Police and security forces have surrounded the castle and its vicinity and launched an operation to hunt down the gunmen,” the statement said.
The Public Security Department (PSD) said all the civilians who were trapped in the Karak Castle when the terrorists withdrew they were freed following a five hour rescue operation.
Security forces evacuated people who were residing near the Karak castle, a resident who preferred anonymity said, “The forces closed all main entries to the town and asked residents to stay at home and follow security instructions.”
A senior security source said some people were trapped in a lower floor of the citadel when the gunmen took shelter there, but denied media reports that they were being held hostage. The source said, “There are no hostages. But some people who were on a lower floor were afraid of leaving as the gunmen traded fire with the security forces.” He said that the gunmen were on a higher level inside the fortress.
Security officials said in a statement late Sunday that at least four gunmen were killed and that troops continued to search the area. The statement said large amounts of weapons had been seized.
Several videos that circulated on social media on Sunday purported dozens of residents carrying armed weapons and “pledging to help security forces to fight the terrorists.” Other video clips captured armored 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 with a vehicle and clashed with police. He said, “They were firing randomly and many people were injured.” “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.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the shootings, but Jordan has been hit by Islamist attacks in the past.