One killed in violent demonstrations in Jordan

Protesters in Amman, Jordan, block a military truck during a demonstration over the government's plan to raise prices for fuel, including cooking gas.
Protesters in Amman, Jordan, block a military truck during a demonstration over the government's plan to raise prices for fuel, including cooking gas. (MOHAMMAD HANNON / AP)
Posted: November 16, 2012

AMMAN, Jordan - Gunmen attacked two police stations in Jordan on Wednesday as demonstrators threw rocks and denounced their king over price hikes in a rare spike of violence.

One attacker was killed in the assaults, the first fatality in demonstrations in the kingdom this year. Thirteen police officers were among 17 seriously wounded in the attack in Jordan's north, police said. A police corporal was critically wounded in the second.

So far, King Abdullah II has steered his nation clear of the Arab Spring that has swept across the region, toppling the rulers of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen along the way. But Jordan's massive budget deficit and other economic woes could increasingly push the population into the opposition camp.

Gunmen staged another armed attack on a police station in the capital, Amman. The police official said gunmen sprayed the building from a moving car in Shafa Badran district, critically wounding a police corporal, who was shot in an eye.

Tensions rose late Tuesday after the government raised prices for cooking and heating gas by 54 percent to rein in a bulging budget deficit and secure a $2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. Minutes after state television announced the hike, several thousand Jordanians poured into streets, pelting police with stones, torching government offices and private cars, and chanting slogans against the king.

"I like the king, but so what?" asked civil servant Daoud Shorfat, 29, one of some 300 protesters in central Amman on Wednesday who police dispersed with tear gas and water cannons. "He can't feel our pain. . . . He is watching the government raising the prices, while the people are barely able to feed their hungry children."

The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan's most powerful opposition group, called the protests "a wakeup call to the king to avoid a replica of the violence in Egypt and Tunisia."

"The street is seething with anger and an explosion is coming," the Brotherhood's Zaki Bani Irsheid said.

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