One killed as Jordan police disperse clash

AMMAN (Reuters) – One bystander was killed when Jordanian security forces used batons and sprayed water to disperse a clash between pro-monarchy demonstrators who hurled stones at protesters calling for political reform, a witness said.

Amer Khairy Saad told Reuters his father, Khairy, 57, died in hospital after police beat him as they were trying to disperse the opposing crowds who had gathered near the Interior Ministry in the Jordanian capital.

“My father left the house to make sure my brother was okay. And then he found police beating him, he was taken to hospital and he died there,” the son, Amer, told Reuters.

Islamist, leftist, liberal and tribal figures have staged protests and sit-ins over the past few weeks calling for a constitutional monarchy. But the demonstrations have been on a much smaller scale than elsewhere across the Arab world.

Security forces earlier in the day erected a barrier in the Gamal Abdul Nasser roundabout near the ministry to keep the two sides separate, and beat back those who tried to breach it.

“The (pro-monarchy) thugs were throwing stones from one side and police were attacking protesters with sticks to push them back,” protester Mahmoud Hamawi told Reuters.

A Reuters cameraman was beaten up by pro-monarchy supporters and Jordanian security forces. His camera was broken.

A photographer at the scene, Rabie Zureiqat, told Reuters:

“Security officers came and took my camera and beat me up with sticks,” he said.

A member of the medical team with the pro-reform protesters, some of whom camped out on the roundabout Thursday night, said more than 50 people had been injured, some seriously.

Friday, they chanted slogans against the interference of intelligence agents in political activities and called out against the head of intelligence, Mohammed Raqqad.

They also chanted “Peaceful, peaceful” and “We love Jordan.”

“The people want to bring down political parties,” chanted the pro-monarchy crowd, which also raised pictures of King Abdullah.

Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit’s cabinet earlier this month announced the creation of the national dialogue committee in response to a call by King Abdullah to accelerate reforms.

Jordan’s Islamist opposition said it would not join the panel because it would not be discussing constitutional changes to curb the monarch’s powers.

(Reporting by Lina Ejeilat; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; diting by Jon Hemming)

One killed as Jordan police disperse clash