Jordanians take to streets, protest against king
BY JAMAL HALABY Associated Press
Thursday, November 15, 2012
11/15/12 at 4:54 AM
Gunmen attacked two police stations in Jordan Wednesday as demonstrators threw rocks and denounced their king over price hikes in a rare spike of violence.
One attacker was killed in the assaults, the first fatality in demonstrations in the kingdom this year. Thirteen police officers were among 17 seriously wounded in the attack in Jordan's north, police said. A police corporal was critically wounded in the second.
Two days of angry protests have threatened to plunge the U.S.-allied kingdom into a wave of unrest.
So far, King Abdullah II has steered his nation clear of the Arab Spring that has swept across the region, toppling the rulers of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen along the way. But Jordan's massive budget deficit and other economic woes could increasingly push the population into the opposition camp.
The motive of the bloody attack on the police station in the town of Wasatiyeh, on the western edge of the city of Irbid near the Syrian border, was not immediately clear. Gunmen staged another armed attack on a police station in the capital, Amman.
Tensions rose late Tuesday after the government raised prices for cooking and heating gas by 54 percent to rein in a bulging budget deficit and secure a $2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. Minutes after state television announced the hike, several thousand Jordanians poured into the streets across the country, pelting police with stones, torching government offices and private cars and chanting slogans against the king.
"I like the king, but so what?" asked 29-yead-old civil servant Daoud Shorfat, one of some 300 protesters in central Amman on Wednesday who police dispersed with tear gas and water cannons. "He can't feel our pain. ... He is watching the government raising the prices, while the people are barely able to feed their hungry children."
King Abdullah II: He's been able to avoid the tumult in other Arab nations, but price hikes in heating and cooking fuel prompted protests in the streets and attacks at two police stations