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Jordan standoff over, Canadian Linda Vatcher among 10 killed by gunmen: authorities

Jordan standoff over, Canadian Linda Vatcher among 10 killed by gunmen: authorities

The CBC has learned that the Canadian killed was Linda Vatcher, 62, of Burgeo, N.L.

Vatcher was in Jordan on vacation, visiting her son Chris Vatcher, who works in the Middle East. Chris Vatcher was shot in the attack.

Linda Vatcher was a retired teacher.

Linda Vatcher

Linda Vatcher was killed in Jordan on Sunday while visiting her son Chris Vatcher, who was shot. (Family photo)

Gunmen ambushed Jordanian police in a series of attacks Sunday, including at a Crusader castle popular with tourists, killing Vatcher, seven officers and two local civilians, officials said

Security officials said the casualty toll had reached 10 dead and 34 wounded. It was not clear if the victims were killed at the castle.

John Babcock, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, confirmed earlier in the day that one of those injured was a Canadian.

A standoff between Jordanian special forces and armed men holed up inside the castle ended several hours after the first shooting. Security officials said in a statement late Sunday that at least four gunmen were killed and that troops continued to search the area. The statement said large amounts of weapons had been seized. It made no reference to local media reports that at one point, the attackers had held hostages. 

The shootings were the latest in a series of attacks that have challenged the pro-Western kingdom’s claim to be an oasis of calm in a region threatened by Islamic extremists.

The killing of the Canadian tourist could further hurt Jordan’s embattled tourism sector, which has declined sharply since Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized large parts of neighbouring Syria and Iraq two years ago.

Babcock said in a written statement, “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of the Canadian reported killed in Jordan today, and to all those affected.

“Canadian officials in Amman are actively working with local authorities to gather additional information and provide consular assistance at this difficult time. The Government of Canada stands ready to assist Jordan in bringing the perpetrators of this heinous attack to justice.”

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion expressed on Twitter his condolences for the Canadian victim as well as for all those affected by the “heinous attack.” Dion also said Canada is is currently in contact with local authorities. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks in and near the central town of Karak, about 140 kilometres south of the capital, Amman.

The chain of events began when a police patrol received reports of a house fire in the town of Qatraneh in the Karak district, said a statement by Jordan’s Public Security Directorate.

JORDAN-SECURITY/SHOOTING

Jordanian policemen and an ambulance are seen in the vicinity of Karak Castle in the city of Karak, Jordan, on Sunday. (Muhammad Hamed/Reuters)

Gunmen holed up inside castle

The officers responding to the call came under fire from inside the house, the statement said. Two policemen were wounded and the assailants fled in a car, it said.

In another attack, gunmen fired on a security patrol in Karak, causing no injuries, the statement said.

Armed men also opened fire on a police station in Karak Castle, a Crusader fort, wounding members of the security forces.

Their fate was not immediately known, and it was not clear if the standoff was still going on after nightfall Sunday. Local news websites said in unconfirmed reports that hostages had been taken.

Tourists flee attack at Jordanian castle RAW0:56

Jordan faces homegrown extremism, with hundreds of Jordanians fighting alongside other ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria and several thousand more supporting the extremist group in the kingdom. Jordan is a key U.S. ally, and a member of a U.S.-led military coalition fighting ISIS.

Over the past year, gunmen have carried out several attacks on members of the Jordanian security forces and foreign trainers. Earlier this year, Jordanian security forces engaged in a deadly shootout with suspected ISIS sympathizers in a northern Jordanian town.

In the most recent incident, three U.S. military members were killed in a shooting outside an air base in southern Jordan in November. The three were in Jordan on a training mission, and came under fire while driving into the base.

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CBC | World News

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