Tuesday, 5 September 2006

Jordan gunman kills Brit and hits 6 more tourists

Tuesday 5 September


AMMAN, Jordan - A British man was shot dead yesterday afternoon and six other Western tourists were wounded when a gunman opened fire on their tour group near the Roman amphitheater in the Jordanian capital.

The gunman was caught by onlookers after a 15-minute gun battle with cops.

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

The wounded included tourists from Britain, Holland, New Zealand and Australia. The dead man was identified only as a 30-year-old Brit.

The group had just left the ancient site in the center of Amman and were climbing steps to exit when the gunman, hiding among Roman pillars, started shooting with a pistol.

A Jordanian police sergeant, Awni Zawahri, gave chase and opened fire at the gunman, igniting a 15-minute gun battle in which Zawahri was shot twice before the gunman was overpowered by onlookers.

"I saw him shooting at the tourists. They were screaming at him, but he just kept on firing until he emptied the whole clip," said shopkeeper Rommel Kamel Hamad, 30.

"He was shouting 'Allahu Akbar' [God is great] as he fired at them," Hamad said. "Then he loaded a second clip and started shooting at the police. He shot the sergeant in the hip and the stomach but then the gun seemed to jam. When we saw he had stopped shooting, a few of us ran after him and caught him. He kicked and punched us, but we managed to hold him down until two police officers arrived, including the wounded sergeant," he said.

The gunman was identified by Jordanian officials as Nabeel Ahmed Issa Jaourah, 38, from a village northeast of Amman near the hometown of Abu Musab alZarqawi, the Al Qaeda-linked terror leader killed in June in Iraq. Jordanian authorities said they believe the man was acting alone.

The attack came despite heavy security in Jordan, a key U.S. ally, since a string of bombings at hotels last November that killed 63 people. Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed to have staged that attack.

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