Jordan arrests 51 over southern riots

AFP, Thursday 6 Jan 2011

Government buildings and police cars set on fire during rioting in the southern city of Maan

Jordan's security services said Thursday they have arrested 51 people linked to southern rioting this week sparked by the murder of two men in a labour dispute.

"Fifty-one suspects were arrested on Wednesday night, but the murderer of two Jordanians is still at large," a security official told AFP.

"Witnesses have identified the killer, who they said had a machine gun and shot at dozens of people, killing two and injuring another two."

Around 100 other people are suspected of involvement in the riots in the restive southern city of Maan."They are being sought by police," he said.

A security official said on Tuesday three men were killed in the shooting.

Angry rioters went on the rampage Tuesday after the funeral of the two men the previous day, following a quarrel that erupted when a contractor transporting cement in a mega water project decided to change workers.

More than 500 people set fire to municipality and court buildings as well as to police vehicles, police posts, civilian cars, shops and a petrol station, police said.

Interior Minister Saad Hayel Srour said on Wednesday that law and order had been restored in Maan.

"The government will not tolerate any attempts to harm stability and security," he said.

Maan has a bloody and rebellious past that goes back to the turn of the last century, when the town was the seat of the Great Arab Revolt that crushed Ottoman rule.

In 1989, 12 people were killed when security forces intervened to put down riots over the cost of living.

Residents also clashed with police in January 2002 when a young man died during police detention.

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