Eight injured in stabbing attack at famous Jordan tourist site

Eight injured in stabbing attack at famous Jordan tourist site
3 min read
06 November, 2019
Four tourists, as well as a Jordanian tour guide and a security officer who tried to stop the assailant, were injured in northern Jordan during a knife attack.
Jordanian police are investigating the motive of the attack [Getty]
Eight people, including four tourists, were wounded in a knife attack on Wednesday at the famed archeological site of Jerash in northern Jordan, said a security spokesman.

Four tourists - three Mexicans and a Swiss woman - were wounded, along with a Jordanian tour guide and a security officer who tried to stop the assailant, public security directorate spokesman Amer Sartawi said.

"The assailant was immediately arrested," the security directorate said in a statement. 

The motive for the attack, which took place around noon (1000 GMT) at the Roman ruins of Jerash, a popular attraction 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital Amman, remains unknown, Sartawi added.

A source in the security services, requesting anonymity, told AFP that the attacker was identified as 22-year-old Moustafa Abourouis and that he "came from the Palestinian refugee camp of Souf". 

The Souf camp, located not far from Jerash, was established in 1967 to shelter Palestinians fleeing the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the Six Day War between Israel and Arab states.  

Health Minister Saad Jaber confirmed that eight people had been wounded, after Sartawi said they had been transported to hospital for treatment.

Jaber visited the wounded at the public hospital in Jerash, accompanied by the Mexican ambassador to Jordan.

The minister said that four of the victims "suffered moderate to severe wounds, while the other four had minor injuries". 

"A Mexican tourist in serious condition and a Jordanian tour guide" were transferred via helicopter to the King Hussein Medical Center in Amman, he added.

Early media reports said the tourists were Spanish, but later it was suggested that the victims are Mexican.

A spokesperson for the Spanish foreign ministry denied Spanish citizens were hurt in the attack.

"From the information we have, there are no Spanish citizens involved, but we are still waiting for confirmation from the Jordanian authorities", the spokesperson said.

Violent attacks

Jordanian tour guide Zouheir Zreiqat witnessed the attack and told AFP that it happened "just before midday when around 100 foreign tourists" were at the site. 

"A bearded man in his twenties wearing black and brandishing a knife started to stab tourists," Zreiqat said.

He said others started to shout for help and he, along with three other tour guides and three tourists managed to stop the assailant.

"We chased him until we could grab him and get him on the ground," Zreiqat said. 

"We took the knife from him. He stayed silent, without saying a word until the police arrived and arrested him."

Jerash is a popular attraction 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital Amman and is famous for being home to one of the world's best-preserved Roman cities.

Read more: Cash-strapped Jordan government resigns ahead of reshuffle

Jordan is a relatively stable country but is subject to sporadic attacks.

A series of attacks by Islamic State group-linked militants in the southern Jordanian city of Kerak in 2016 left 14 people dead.

This included shootings in the well-known Crusader-era castle that is popular with tourists, although all but one of the dead was Jordanian.

This story was updated to include more details on the incident, the identity of the assailant, the number and nationalities of those injured and statements by the health minister. 

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