Potential Hot Spots: November 27, 2002

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The situation remains unstable in the southern Jordan's Islamist stronghold of Maan, after the second clash between anti-riot police and armed gunmen this November. Two Jordanians were killed and several injured, after security forces tried to arrest the 12-year-old son of fugitive firebrand Muslim preacher Mohamad Chalabi on 23 November. Police tried to get Sayyaf as he went out to the market, but disgruntled Maan residents surrounded them in the street. Fistfights broke out and the locals managed to free him.

At that time of day, the city was crowded with people who came out of mosques after the evening prayer. A child threw firecrackers on a security vehicle and then a group of young men attacked a public security vehicle in front of the Maan Municipality building. They captured some weapons and an exchange of fire ensued. One of the attackers was killed and three others were wounded (including one security officer). More security forces were immediately sent to the area. But witnesses said two were killed and several wounded in heavy gunfire that broke out after the traditional Iftaar meal, which ends each day of fasting during the Muslim month of Ramadan.

Chalabi (also known as Abu Sayyaf) is the most wanted man on the list of Islamist radicals on the run. Abu Sayyaf's wife said police cordoned off the whole area, including her home, after Sunday's clashes. She said her son was safe under the protection of tribal elders.

Maan's city leaders said their loyalty to the King was beyond doubt, dismissing the incident as simply clashes between teenagers and security (yet all of the dead were in their 20's). Ma'an Governor Muhammad Al-Buraykat told the press that he was chairing a meeting in the municipality building, in order to restore normal life to the city. - Adam Geibel


 

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