AMMAN – A Jordanian policeman shot dead two US instructors, a South African and a fellow Jordanian at a police academy Monday before being gunned down, officials and the US embassy said. Government spokesman Mohammed Momani said the shooter also wounded two American instructors, four Jordanians and a Lebanese citizen in the attack at the Jordanian International Police Training Centre (JIPTC).
Momani, who is also information minister, said in statements carried by state news agency Petra that the assailant was gunned down by colleagues at the centre in Al-Muwaqqar, 30 kilometres (20 miles) east of Amman.
An investigation is underway to determine the motive for the shooting, he added. The three foreign instructors killed were on contract with Jordanian police, Momani said.
Sources close to the family identified the shooter as police captain Anwar Abu Zeid.
“He has no ties with any terrorist organisation like Daesh,” one source told AFP, using an Arabic acronym for the jihadist Islamic State group.
“The family is in shock and security forces are questioning them about the incident,” said the source, who declined to be named.
The English-language Jordan Times quoted a relative of the assailant as saying he was a 28-year-old father of two from the northern village of Rimun.
He was known in his hometown as “a very kind person, who is religious but moderate”, the relative who declined to be named told the paper.
The US embassy condemned the attack, confirming the casualty toll and the nationality of the victims.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families of all of the victims,” a statement said.
“The investigation is on-going and it is premature to speculate on motive at this point,” it added.
The embassy also posted on its website a message for US citizens reporting a “security incident” at the JIPTC and urging individuals “to please avoid that area for the time being”.
“Please monitor the news for further developments and maintain security awareness,” the message said.
The attack coincides with the 10th anniversary of suicide bombings in Amman hotels that cost 60 lives and wounded dozens more.
On Monday, King Abdullah II and his wife Queen Rania attended a memorial for the victims of the November 9, 2005 attacks.
“I know that this is a difficult day for you,” the king told families of the victims, and deplored the “tragedies caused by terrorism” around the world.
The king later visited the wounded from Monday’s attack who were being treated at a military hospital, Petra said.
The 2005 bombings, which were claimed by Al-Qaeda, had shocked one of the Middle East’s most stable countries and a key US ally.
Earlier this year Jordan executed an Iraqi woman whose husband was one of the bombers.
Sajida al-Rishawi was arrested after the attacks and confessed that she was also wearing an explosives belt but had been unable to activate it. She was tried and sentenced to death.
She was executed on February 4 along with another Iraqi jihadist who had been on death row in revenge for the killing by IS of fighter pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh.
IS captured the fighter last December and later burned him alive in a cage.
The pilot’s murder sparked international outrage and was described by a senior Jordanian official as a “turning point” in the kingdom’s fight against IS.
Jordan is part of a US-led coalition battling IS, which has seized swathes of territory in its neighbours Syria and Iraq.
The tiny desert kingdom has trained tens of thousands of Iraqi, Palestinian and Afghani police officers and announced earlier this year plans to train former Libyan rebels at the police academy.
The centre was set up initially after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq to train Iraqis for their country’s post-war police force.