New trouble in Maan, as US withdraws staff

25 November 2002

Violence has again broken out in the southern Jordanian town of Maan, as residents clashed with police. One person died and several others were injured in the gun battle. The town was the scene of clashes between the army and Islamists earlier in November when the government launched an operation against militants based there. It is unclear whether this latest fighting is connected. Maan is home to many who oppose the government's policies towards Israel and Iraq.

In another sign of the increasing tension being created in Jordan by the potential US attack on Iraq and escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence, the US said at the weekend that it was evacuating non-emergency staff in the kingdom. The US State Department said that embassy dependants and non-emergency personnel would get free flights out, and the Peace Corps programme would be suspended, because of heightened security fears. In October US Agency for International Development (USAID) official Lawrence Foley was shot dead outside his home in Amman. 'We appreciate the concerns of the US government in the light of targeting US citizens in the region', said a Jordanian government spokesman.

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