Jordan policeman kills 5, including 2 Americans

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AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — A Jordanian police officer opened fire Monday at a regional police training center in the Jordanian capital, killing two Americans, two Jordanians and a South African before being shot dead, the Jordanian government spokesman said.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, said at one point that the death toll had apparently risen to eight, but Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed Momani disputed that figure.

The attack also wounded seven people, including two Americans, three Jordanians and a Lebanese, Momani said.

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He said authorities are investigating whether the attacker's motive was personal or political.

Jordan, a close U.S. ally that has a peace treaty with Israel, has long been seen as an island of relative stability in a turbulent region. Over the past year, the pro-Western kingdom has taken on a high-profile role in the fight against extremists, including the Islamic State group, which controls large areas of neighboring Iraq and Syria.

There has been concern that militants could carry out revenge attacks on Jordanian soil.

Fayez Dwairi, a strategic analyst and former senior military officer, said he could not recall such a deadly shooting attack inside a Jordanian security compound in his 36 years in the military.

See photos from the incident, and other American military personnel in Jordan:

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U.S. special forces in Jordan, Mideast Jordan Americans Killed
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Jordan policeman kills 5, including 2 Americans
Ambulances leave the King Abdullah bin Al Hussein Training Center where a Jordanian policeman went on a shooting spree in Mwaqar on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan, Monday Nov. 9, 2015. The policeman opened fire Monday on foreign trainers at a police compound, killing two Americans, a South African and a Jordanian and wounding two Americans and three Jordanians, according to government spokesman Mohammed Momani. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
Ambulances leave the King Abdullah bin Al Hussein Training Center where a Jordanian policeman went on a shooting spree in Mwaqar on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan, Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. The policeman opened fire Monday on foreign trainers at a police compound, killing two Americans, a South African and a Jordanian and wounding two Americans and three Jordanians, according to government spokesman Mohammed Momani. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
Ambulances leave the King Abdullah bin Al Hussein Training Center where a Jordanian policeman went on a shooting spree in Mwaqar on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan, Monday Nov. 9, 2015. The policeman opened fire Monday on foreign trainers at a police compound, killing two Americans, a South African and a Jordanian and wounding two Americans and three Jordanians, according to government spokesman Mohammed Momani. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
FILE - In this Monday, June 17, 2013 file photo, U.S. special operations forces watch a rehearsal by special operations forces from Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon as part of Eager Lion, a multinational military exercise in Zarqa, Jordan. The government-owned Al-Rai newspaper says a Jordanian policeman opened fire on American contractors at a police training center, killing two and injuring three. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, June 20, 2013 file photo, special operations forces from Iraq, Jordan and the U.S. stand in formation wearing gas masks following a combined demonstration as part of Eager Lion multinational military maneuvers at the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC) in Amman, Jordan. The government-owned Al-Rai newspaper says a Jordanian policeman opened fire on American contractors at a police training center, killing two and injuring three. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, June 20, 2013 photo, special operations forces from Iraq, Jordan and the U.S. conduct an exercise as part of Eager Lion multinational military maneuvers at the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC) in Amman, Jordan. The government-owned Al-Rai newspaper says a Jordanian policeman opened fire on American contractors at a police training center, killing two and injuring three. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)
FILE - In this June 18, 2013, file photo, U.S. Marines monitor Eager Lion multinational military maneuvers in Quweira, 186 miles south of Amman, Jordan. The government-owned Al-Rai newspaper says a Jordanian policeman opened fire on American contractors at a police training center, killing two and injuring three. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, June 20, 2013 file photo, soldiers participate in a combined special operations demonstration with commandos from Jordan, Iraq and the U.S. as part of Eager Lion multinational military maneuvers, at the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC) in Amman, Jordan. The government-owned Al-Rai newspaper says a Jordanian policeman opened fire on American contractors at a police training center, killing two and injuring three. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)
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The government did not release the identity of the attacker, but a former member of parliament said authorities told him the shooter was 29-year-old Anwar Abu Zaid. The ex-parliamentarian, Suleiman Saed, is a relative of Abu Zaid.

Abu Zaid's brother, Fadi, told The Associated Press that Anwar was mentally stable and "not an extremist at all."

He said his brother, a father of two, joined the security forces at age 18, had been working at the training center for several months and had left for work as usual on Monday morning. Fadi Abu Zaid said the family demands to know about the circumstances of Anwar's death and will not accept his body until the authorities release more information.

In Washington, President Barack Obama said the attacker had been dressed in a military uniform.

"We take this very seriously and will be working closely with the Jordanians to determine exactly what happened," Obama said during an Oval Office meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

U.S. forces in Afghanistan have come under attack on a number of occasions by local police and troops serving alongside them, in what are known as "green-on-blue" assaults. Such attacks have been extremely rare in the Middle East.

A U.S. official said the Americans who were killed and wounded in the attack were part of a State Department police training program. The official said all were civilians, but declined to identify them. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Momani said the Jordanian killed in the attack was a civilian employee at the center.

He said the wounded are being treated at Jordan's main military hospital and were visited by King Abdullah II.

About two hours after the shooting, dozens of armored vehicles were moving in and out of the large, walled training center on the outskirts of Amman. The center was established in 2003, and has trained 53,000 police officers from Iraq, 8,000 from the Palestinian territories and additional groups from other Arab countries, according to its website.

"We have full confidence in our security measures, and the investigation will uncover the motivation behind what happened," Momani told The Associated Press. In an earlier statement, he referred to the shooting as a crime.

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Associated Press writers Karin Laub in Southern Shuneh, Jordan, and Bradley Klapper and Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report


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