6 wounded as Palestinian goes on shooting spree in Jordan

Gunman in critical condition after shooting himself in the head during police chase.

Jordan shooting 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Jordan shooting 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
A Palestinian gunman shot and wounded six people near a Roman amphitheater in Jordan's capital on Wednesday, authorities said. The gunman shot himself in the head as he was being chased by police, and was in critical condition, Jordan's state minister for information, Nasser Judeh, said. The six victims were not seriously injured, he added. A police official identified the assailant as Thaer al-Weheidi, 19, a resident of Baqaa camp, the largest of 11 Palestinian refugee settlements in Jordan. Judeh said the victims included four Lebanese, an Arab-Israeli woman and their Jordanian bus driver. First reports indicated all six were Lebanese. Judeh described the nighttime shooting as a "criminal" incident, adding it did not appear terrorist-related. "The police investigation is still under way, but preliminary information points to the fact that this is an isolated incident," Judeh said. Witnesses said some Israeli tourists were nearby at the time of the shooting, but a police official dismissed that as a rumor. Israeli Embassy officials were not immediately available for comment. Earlier, the police official said investigators were unsure if the shooter was affiliated with any militant groups. But he later said al-Weheidi has a criminal record and that he was implicated in previous cases of attempted murder and looting. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way. There have been several shootings and other attacks in the Jordanian capital in recent years, some of them targeting tourists at the site of the amphitheater in downtown Amman. The country's worst terrorist attack was a triple suicide bombing at Amman hotels that killed 63 people in 2005. Wednesday's shooting took place across the street from the amphitheater, in Hashimiyah Square. Police sealed off the amphitheater area and were questioning witnesses. Ambulances carried the wounded to a nearby government hospital. The amphitheater is situated in a poor Amman district, which is a known hub for hard-line Muslims, many of them affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood Movement, the country's largest opposition group. In a September 2006 shooting, a lone gunman fired on a group of Western tourists outside the amphitheater, killing a British man and wounding six other people. In March of this year a man stabbed and wounded a German tourist as he was walking with his wife near downtown Amman's al-Husseini Mosque.