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World

Normally Peaceful Jordan Shaken After Police Officer Kills 5 People

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In the turbulent Middle East the country of Jordan has managed to stay peaceful. So the U.S. uses it as a hub to train regional security forces. Then yesterday a Jordanian police officer opened fire on trainers, killing at least five, two Americans, a South African and two fellow Jordanians. NPR's Alice Fordham reports on the aftermath.

ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: American and Jordanian authorities are now investigating the shooting by an officer named in local media as Anwar Abu Zeid. He died during the incident. Officials say police killed him. And there's no indication so far of a motive. But the incident has shaken Jordan, which is a crucial ally of the U.S. in the fight against ISIS. Here's Jordan's King Abdullah speaking at the U.N. General Assembly about Islamic extremism.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

KING ABDULLAH: I have called this crisis a third world war. And I believe we must respond with equal intensity. That means global, collective action on all fronts.

FORDHAM: That action includes inviting more than 2,000 American military personnel to be based here as well as Patriot missile systems and warplanes. Jordan also hosts extensive training programs run by the U.S. Monday's attack happened during training of Palestinian police. The U.S. is also training Iraqi military forces and others. And the U.S. helps Jordan, too, with about a billion dollars a year in military and economic aid. In the context of these close relations, no wonder people tell me Monday's attack is deeply worrying. Some think it was done by one of Jordan's small, but restive, population of extremists.

In an up-market shopping mall I meet Abdullah Qasrawi.

ABDULLAH QASRAWI: (Foreign language spoken).

FORDHAM: He says some think the attack was timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of an al-Qaida bombing of three hotels in the capital. Qasrawi slips into English to say usually Jordan is calm and he likes it that way.

QASRAWI: You don't feel worried or anything, so we don't need this. We don't need to be like the other countries.

FORDHAM: Other countries meaning those that border Jordan like Syria and Iraq. But he doesn't think it's likely. He tells me the attacker was just one man. Most Jordanians want peace. Alice Fordham, NPR News, Amman. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.