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Jordanian protests gather 311 (R).(Photo by: REUTERS/Majed Jaber )
20 hurt as Jordan police fire tear gas to stop clashes
Fighting breaks out after pro-monarchy youths throw stones at Sunni Muslims demanding freedom for detainees in Zarqa city, witnesses say.
AMMAN - Jordanian police used tear gas on Friday to stop fighting after pro-monarchy youths threw stones at a group of Salafis, ultra-conservative Sunni Muslims, demanding freedom for detainees in Zarqa city, witnesses said.

At least 20 people were hospitalized after clashes erupted when dozens of youths carrying batons and rocks attacked scores of Salafis, returning from a rally at a mosque rally to demand the release of more than 200 high-security prisoners, they said.

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A security source who confirmed the police used tear gas to disperse the groups said several arrests were made and an investigation was underway.

Sheikh Abdul Qader Tahawi blamed the violence on plain clothes security personnel.

"They want us to stop our sit-ins to demand the release of our brothers in prisons. Our demands are peaceful and they wanted to provoke us," Tahawi, who witnessed the clashes, told Reuters.

Salafis have no factional ties with al Qaida but consult with and follow instructions from well-known al Qaida advocates such as Jordan's Abu Mohammad al-Maqdisi, a former mentor of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, a commander killed by US forces in Iraq in 2006.

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