AMMAN, Jordan – Jordanian police exchanged gunfire with a small group of armed men suspected of stealing electricity and water in a town near the Israeli border, the official Petra news agency reported.One of the gunmen was killed and several were arrested.
An Associated Press photographer at the scene said security vehicles and anti-riot police sealed off an area leading to the Allenby Bridge, a route used by travelers crossing over to the West Bank.
Witnesses said gunfire could be heard Friday night and Saturday as the group shot at government utility offices.
Petra said the small group of armed men, using automatic weapons, opened fire at policemen “trying to retrieve state property usurped” by the gunmen and some other unnamed individuals. It said the group was suspected of stealing electricity and water in Southern Shuneh, an agricultural town in the Jordan Valley.
“Police returned fire, killing one person and arresting (several) others,” the agency said, quoting an unnamed security official.
Government spokesman Nasser Judeh said he had little information on the incident but described the perpetrators as “outlaws.”
Jordan’s Interior Minister Eid al-Fayez also did not provide details about the clashes, saying only that it was “necessary to respect the country’s dignity by not allowing any violation against the nation’s achievements and by taking necessary measures to stop aggression against state property,” according to Petra.
Sheik Sami Affash Edwan, a prominent Bedouin leader heading the influential Edwan tribe, said the gunmen, who included some distant relatives of his, were also “trying to sabotage my election campaign by shooting at my farm â€” particularly the water wells.”
He said the group was not affiliated with any Islamist group and did not espouse any militant ideology.