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Tourist Slain by Gunman in Jordan

A suspect is held in the attack at Roman ruins. Besides the British man killed, six are wounded.

September 05, 2006|From the Associated Press

AMMAN, Jordan — A gunman opened fire Monday on Western tourists at Roman ruins in the heart of this capital city, killing a British man and wounding six people before being overpowered.

Police said the attacker came from the same area as the slain leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The attack at an ancient Roman theater came amid a heavy security clampdown prompted by a string of deadly bombings at hotels in Amman last November. The group Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the bombing attacks.

Police were trying to determine whether the alleged gunman, Nabeel Ahmed Issa Jaourah, was enticed by Islamic militants or a terrorist group to carry out the shooting, said a Jordanian security official, who requested anonymity in discussing the investigation.

The official said Jaourah, 38, was from Rusaifa, a village outside Zarqa, the hometown of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Al Qaeda in Iraq leader who was killed June 7 when a U.S. warplane bombed his hide-out in Iraq. Zarqa is an industrial town northeast of Amman that is a hub for Muslim extremists.

Preliminary investigations found no link between known terrorist groups and Jaourah, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin who worked as a welder, the official said.

Jaourah is believed to be an observant Muslim who once wore a beard -- a custom among some conservative Muslims -- but he was clean-shaven when he carried out the assault, the official added.

It was the first major attack in the kingdom since the triple hotel bombings that killed 63 people, including three suicide bombers.

"This is a cowardly terrorist attack, which we regret took place on Jordanian soil," Interior Minister Eid Fayez said. "This operation is considered a terrorist act unless the man is found to be deranged."

The attacker shouted "Allahu akbar!" (God is great!) as he ran past the tourists, firing at them. Then he turned around to face them and continued to shoot, the security official said.

He said bystanders, including Iraqi refugees, helped two tourist police officers capture the assailant, who tried to flee.

The dead man was identified only as a 30-year-old from Britain.

Fayez said the wounded were two British women, a Dutchman, an Australian woman, a woman from New Zealand and a Jordanian tourist police officer.

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