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Gunman Attacks Tourists In Jordan

A Jordanian gunman on Monday shot at a group of foreign tourists visiting the Roman Amphitheater in Jordan's capital, killing a British man and wounding six other people including a police officer, officials said.

Police overtook the gunman at the scene and arrested him, said government spokesman Nasser Judeh.

Jordan — a key U.S. ally — has been the site of numerous terrorist attacks targeting westerners and their haunts: The worst, a triple suicide bombing at hotels in Amman in November, killed 60 people including both westerners and Arabs.

Interior Minister Eid al-Fayez said the casualties included the British man who died, plus two other wounded British women and the Jordanian police officer. In addition, one Dutch man, one Australian woman and one woman from New Zealand were injured in the shooting spree.

"This is a cowardly terrorist attack, which we regret took place on Jordanian soil," al-Fayez told reporters at the scene.

"This operation is considered a terrorist act unless the man is found to be deranged," he said. He said the gunman was being interrogated.

Judeh, the government spokesman, declined to say if the assailant was believed to be linked to any known terror organization. "The investigation is under way and it's still early to tell," he told The Associated Press.

Judeh said the wounded were rushed to a nearby state hospital.

The attack took place in broad daylight as the tourists visited the popular attraction in Amman's bustling downtown district.

An eyewitness said he saw one of the tourists — who was part of a group of seven — die of his wounds at the scene.

The gunman, clean shaven and his mid-30s, surprised the tourists from the opposite side, wielding a gun and shouting "Allahu akbar," or God is great, before he fired several shots directly at them, said the eyewitness, Mohammad Jawad Ali, an Iraqi.

He said the attack took place at 12:30 p.m. (9:30 GMT).

Monday's attack was the first major terror attempt in Jordan since last November's triple Amman hotel blasts claimed by al Qaeda in Iraq. Sixty three people, including three Iraqi suicide bombers, died in the bombings, the most serious in Jordan's recent history.

The majority of the victims were Jordanian women and children.

There have been attacks against foreigners in recent years and the authorities say they have foiled a number of deadly militant terror plots.

In May 2004, a member of the Jordanian security forces opened fire on a group of Israelis crossing the border. No one was injured and police said the man was deranged.

In November 2003, a gunman with no known terrorist links, opened fire at the southern Jordan-Israel border crossing, north of Aqaba, wounding five people and killing a foreign tourist.

Following the November suicide blasts, the authorities tightened security around all tourist attractions and hotels across the kingdom. More metal detectors and police patrols were positioned outside these locations.

Still, Monday's attack seems to have succeeded because the gunman shot the tourists just outside the amphitheater's entrance — an area frequented by low-income and unemployed Jordanians and Iraqis in a district populated by conservative Muslims.

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