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Two US trainers shot dead at Jordan airbase

AMMAN: As many as two US trainers were killed and the third one wounded in an exchange of fire on Friday at a Jordanian air force base, the Jordanian army said.

It was not immediately clear who initiated the shooting, which the army said took place at the gate of Al-Jafr base in southern Jordan.

But the army, in a statement, said it happened when the car carrying the US trainers failed to stop, adding that a Jordanian officer was also wounded.

“An exchange of fire occurred Friday morning at the gate of the Prince Feisal Air Base in Al-Jafr when a car carrying trainers attempted to enter the gate without heeding the guards’ orders to stop,” it said quoting a military source.

The army said the wounded were evacuated to hospital and that an investigation was under way to determine the causes of the shooting.

The US embassy in Jordan acknowledged a “security incident involving US personnel” in a statement received by AFP but gave few other details.

“We are in contact with the appropriate Jordanian authorities, who have offered their full support. We will report more information when available and appropriate,” it said.

The death of two US military trainers in Jordan could prove very embarrassing for Amman, a key recipient of US financial assistance and member of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

US forces have trained a small group of vetted Syrian rebels in Jordan, and American instructors have trained Iraqi and Palestinian security forces in Jordan as well over the past few years.

Friday’s incident comes almost a year after a Jordanian policeman shot dead two US instructors, a South African and two Jordanians at a police training centre east of Amman, before being gunned down.

Washington said at the time that the two Americans killed in the November 9, 2015 shooting were employees of the private firm DynCorp contracted by the State Department to train Palestinian forces.

Two other Americans were wounded in that incident, which sparked concern in Washington and was condemned by the US embassy.

The centre where last year’s shooting took place was set up after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

It has since trained tens of thousands of Iraqi, Palestinian and Afghani police officers, and last year Jordan announced that former Libyan rebels would also be trained there.

A government source said that military training is provided at Al-Jafr air base by instructors of various nationalities, including Americans, to participants from different countries.

Last year, the United States announced its intention to increase overall US assistance to Jordan from $660 million to $1 billion annually for the 2015-2017 period. – AFP