Riots renew in southern Jordan ahead of "civil disobedience" (Photos)

[02-06-2013 03:05 PM]

Ammon News - By Banan Malkawi / Mohammad Abu Hmaed for Ammon News Arabic

AMMON - Dozens of armed young men on Sunday attacked a police precinct in the southern city of Ma'an, as the city braces for a planned "civil disobedience" that locals threatened to launch in reaction to deteriorating security conditions in the restive city.

Ma'an city witnessed heavy shootings and riots overnight, as police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds in the latest wave of violence and protests over recent deteriorating security conditions, Ammon News correspondent Mohammad Abu Hmaed said from Ma'an.

Gendarmerie police reinforcement entered the southern city Sunday night and dispersed crowds who gathered by the Grand Ma'an Mosque to protest the recent death of two local young men in a shootout with police last week.

Armed men fired gunshots in the air Sunday afternoon in the city center, pressuring local shops and establishments to close down in part of the civil disobedience, a security source who did not want his name disclosed told Ammon News.

Riots and clashes with police renewed on Sunday, after a tense night on Saturday that witnessed locals firing at the police station in Ma'an.

"The situation in Ma'an is very tense," the source said, adding that riots and clashes are ongoing as security forces are attempting to contain the situation.

Local tribal leaders had issued a statement last week threatening to resort to civil disobedience in response to the death of three local residents amid deteriorating security conditions.

Following a meeting that gathered thousands of residents in Ma'an Monday evening, the statement issued by the local tribal leaders called on King Abdullah II to intervene to put an end to what resident described as "deliberate" attempts to undermine tribes by pitting them against each other.

The local reaction was exacerbated when a video showing individuals kicking the bodies of two locals who were killed in a shootout with police on Tuesday went viral on the web.

The two individuals killed on Tuesday near Aqaba were wanted on various crimes and refused to obey police orders, police had said on Tuesday, adding that the victims had initiated by firing at police units first.

The planned "civil disobedience" has not gone into effect as of Sunday, local sources told Ammon News, citing that tribal leaders are coordinating with the administrative governor and security forces to find and arrest the individuals who reportedly desecrated the dead bodies in the alleged video.

Local tribal leaders intervened to contain the chaos and riots amid heightened presence of security and Gendarmerie forces.

Meanwhile, efforts to spread the word of the civil disobedience initiative are also underway, with residents distributing brochures calling on all private and public establishments to join by closing down.

The restive city of Ma'an, some 220 kilometers south of Amman, has been a hotbed for riots and violent clashes in the past months.

Earlier in April, four people were killed when armed clashes erupted in Al Hussein bin Talal University in Ma'an during an "open day" to celebrate the anniversary of the university's founding.

Four people were killed and dozens were injured in the clashes, which later escalated outside campus and triggered riots and blockage of major highways, including the vital highway linking the north of Jordan with southern governorates.

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