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'Rioting' in north Jordan leaves one dead, six wounded

Unrest erupts after security patrol stops vehicle in northern province of Ajloun and two passengers refuse to show their identification
Group torched government vehicle and attacked governor's residence (AFP/file photo)

Overnight riots in northern Jordan left one person dead and six others including policemen wounded after clashes broke out following a routine traffic stop, an official said on Saturday.

The unrest erupted Friday evening after a security patrol stopped a vehicle in the northern province of Ajloun and the two passengers "refused" to show their identification, said Amer Sartawi, media spokesman for the kingdom's public security directorate.

"They called a group of their relatives... who came and attacked the patrol with stones," AFP quoted him as saying.

Police arrested the two and escorted them to a nearby police station, after which a group of their relatives blocked the main highway in Ajloun and started throwing rocks at passers-by, Xinhua reported.

The security patrol fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, Sartawi said, adding that four officers were hurt.

Some of the group then returned, "rioting, closing the main road, throwing stones at passing vehicles... and shooting with automatic weapons directly at the security forces", he said.

Several security force vehicles were damaged and hit by bullets. Some of the group opened fire with automatic weapons at government buildings and vehicles, Xinhua said.

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They also torched a government vehicle and attacked the governor's residence, he said.

Ambulances were dispatched shortly after to collect "two people wounded by unidentified gunfire", he said, adding that one later succumbed to his wounds.

Another man was wounded by gunfire to the stomach, he added.

Jordan's state television reported on Saturday that "shooting had resumed" in the area and that some roads had been blocked with burning tyres.

An investigation is underway to look into the incident, a police spokesman was cited by Xinhua as saying.

The US embassy "strongly" advised its citizens to avoid the northern province amid the unrest.