AMMAN Jordanian police arrested about 16 youths suspected of involvement in armed attacks against government buildings in the poor southern town of Maan in protest against the killing of a man, security officials said on Monday.
The unrest broke out last week over the death of bystander Qusai al-Imami during a raid on what authorities described as bandits and drug dealers in the tribal stronghold, which is known for its defiance of central authority.
Although civil unrest is rare in Jordan, Maan has been the scene of violent protests in recent years, often reflecting Bedouin resentment against the government as well as tribal rivalries. Muslim Salafi fundamentalists are also active.
Many residents carry weapons and have resisted pressure to disarm.
Last week's raid was mounted a day after a relative of fugitives killed in earlier police round-ups had fired on several policemen guarding the Maan court in the old city.
City mayor Majid al-Sharari said police had arrested around 16 people in the last two days who are suspected to have been behind the attacks.
Residents reported gunfire every night from last Wednesday till Friday. Witnesses said some neighborhoods saw youths firing at police targets and burning tires to block off roads.
Petrol bombs were thrown on two banks and two police stations were attacked by unknown gunmen.
Witnesses said security forces remained vigilant near government buildings as a precautionary measure and outside the city but without a heavy presence that could provoke locals.
Deputy Amjad Al-Khatab, to whose tribe the dead youth belonged, said successive governments was to blame for the unrest. He accused the authorities of failing to inject much-needed investments to create jobs in the economically deprived city.
Jordan, which is reeling under the impact of more than 600,000 Syrian refugees, is struggling to satisfy demands of Jordanians for state jobs as it implements an IMF-austerity program to cut its chronic budget.
Inter-tribal violence has been on the rise in Jordan where tribes, who are the original inhabitants of the country, form the backbone of support for the Hashemite dynasty.
Although eruptions of tribal violence are not new, they have become more frequent and eclipsed traditional protests against government policies.
(Editing by Angus MacSwan)