AMMAN: A high-ranking Jordanian police officer who was shot and killed on Thursday in the protest-hit southern city of Maan was laid to rest on Friday in his hometown of Jasrah, 40 km from the capital Amman.
Col. Abdul Razzaq Al-Dalabeeh, deputy police chief of Maan, was shot in the head while officers responded to rioters in Al-Husseiniya. Two others were injured in the clashes in Maan, which has been rocked by demonstrations against increasing fuel prices.
On Friday King Abdullah vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice, a royal court statement said, adding that the monarch reaffirmed that violence against the state, vandalism of public property, and violating Jordanians’ rights will be dealt with firmly.
He stressed that assaults and acts of vandalism were “dangerous threats to national security,” adding: “We will not tolerate violence against our security personnel, who work day and night to protect Jordan and Jordanians.”
He acknowledged Jordanians’ difficult economic conditions and their right to peaceful self-expression within the law, saying that state institutions will take all measures to hold criminals to account.
The Public Security Department said security agencies would maintain a “strict approach” in response to rioting and violence while respecting Jordanians’ right to peaceful demonstrations.
The government said it would “maintain zero tolerance” toward acts of violence and any attempt to undermine the country’s security and stability.
Faisal Shboul, minister of state for media affairs, said justice would be served and those involved in the killing of Al-Dalabeeh would be prosecuted.
The Bani Hassan tribe, the largest in Jordan and to which Al-Dalabeeh belonged, called on the authorities to identify his killer while stressing the “government is not welcome in the condolence house.”
Twelve MPs from the tribe said they would resign, introduce a vote of no confidence against the government or boycott the lower house if the authorities failed to bring the perpetrator to justice.
At a press conference on Friday, Interior Minister Mazen Farayeh said some of the sit-ins in Maan and other regions had turned violent, with protesters blocking streets and attacking government institutions.
He also promised intensified efforts to identify the killer of Al-Dalabeeh.
Farayeh said the government “protects freedom of opinion and peaceful demonstrations but would use appropriate force against rioters and vandals.”
He also said more security forces would be deployed in Maan and other regions to prevent rioting.
Jordan, especially the southern regions, has witnessed strikes for nearly two weeks.
Truck drivers in Maan began the protest against rising diesel prices by organizing a sit-in on the desert highway linking Amman and the port city of Aqaba, before colleagues from other regions, including in Amman and Mafraq on the border with Iraq, also joined in.
Bus and taxi drivers across Jordan have also staged sit-ins, demanding the government decrease fuel prices.
In a move described as “civil disobedience,” merchants from the southern cities of Maan, Tafileh and Karak closed their shops in solidarity with drivers.
Some regions saw rioting, road blockades and tire burnings that prompted the intervention of security forces.
During a recent session, MPs called on the government to reduce prices of fuel and basic commodities and intervene to curb inflation.
Some lawmakers threatened to launch a motion of no confidence against the government.
Prime Minister Bishr Khasawneh said the “government does not have the luxury to subsidize fuel derivatives.”
He added: “Lowering the fuel prices would mean an additional cost of 550 million Jordanian dinars ($77 million) to the budget. The government does not have this money,” Khasawneh said.
Some deputies have cited the premier’s “poorly phrased remarks” as the reason behind increased tensions in the streets.
Fuel prices in Jordan have seen consecutive hikes over the past few months, particularly diesel and kerosene.
Acknowledging Jordanians’ difficult economic conditions, the interior minister said fuel prices would be lowered by this month-end or next month.
The government has also proposed relief measures including financial aid of around 3.5 million dinars for thousands of poor families.