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Police officer killed in Jordan as anger over fuel prices spreads

Clashes between police and locals broke out in several Jordanian cities, including Maan, where the officer was killed.

A senior police officer was killed in clashes with protesters in the southern Jordanian city of Maan during protests over high fuel prices that spread to several cities in the kingdom, police and witnesses said.

In a statement, police said the officer was shot in the head Thursday night while dealing with “riots” by a group of outlaws in the city that has seen bouts of civil unrest in the past over increases in the fuel prices and cuts in subsidies.

“We will strike with an iron fist anyone who attempts to attack life and property,” the police statement added.

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A police source had earlier said that unknown assailants shot the officer during clashes in the Husseiniya area of ​​Maan. Four other police officers were injured, the source said.

Witnesses said a long convoy of armored vehicles was seen entering Maan as reinforcements were sent to the neighborhood where the police officer was killed.

The youths had clashed with police in several neighborhoods of the city and in the densely populated industrial city of Zarqa, northeast of the capital Amman, witnesses said.

Riot police fired tear gas into the Jabal al-Abyad neighborhood of Zarqa to break up protests that erupted in Jordan’s second most populous city.

Witnesses said dozens of youths also staged a protest in the capital’s Tafiyla neighborhood, where police chased protesters chanting anti-government slogans.

The youths burned tires on a main highway between the capital and the Dead Sea, disrupting traffic, witnesses said.

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In the north of the country, near the border with Syria, youngsters clashed with the police in several neighborhoods of Irbid, the third most populous city in the country.

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Sporadic skirmishes spread to other smaller towns in the surrounding area, where police used tear gas to disperse stone-throwing youths.

The US embassy issued a security alert saying that US government personnel had been restricted from personal and official travel to southern Jordan.

Tensions have been rising in Maan and in several cities in southern Jordan after days of sporadic strikes by truckers to protest high fuel prices.

The government has promised to study the strikers’ demands, but has said it has already paid more than 500 million dinars ($700 million) to limit fuel price rises this year.

Officials say they can’t spend more to subsidize prices because of limits set under an International Monetary Fund (IMF)-backed structural economic reform program.

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Shops in Maan and several other Jordanian provincial towns closed on Wednesday in solidarity with demands that the government cut diesel prices, which truckers blame for their mounting losses.

Some activist strikers have threatened to organize street protests in provincial cities on Friday. Police have tightened security near the government headquarters in downtown Amman, where protesters traditionally gather.

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