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Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 15:20 GMT
Jordan police out in force after riots
Map showing Jordan and the southern city of Maan
Hundreds of Jordanian police and riot police have been deployed in the southern city of Maan after two days of rioting which followed the death in custody of a teenage boy.

Officials say one policeman has died from injuries sustained during the violence, and another is in a critical condition.

Five other policemen and eight civilians were also injured in the worst public disorder in Jordan since 1998.

Protesters accused the police of torturing 17 year-old Suleiman al-Fanatseh.

During the riots, the police station in Maan came under attack and was set on fire along with other buildings.

Jordan's Interior Minister has blamed the riots on "troublemakers" who were exploiting the boy's death.

Brutality allegations

The trouble started late on Monday when Fanatseh's relatives marched on the police station, accusing police of torturing him.

They said the teenager - who had been arrested the previous week in connection with a robbery - was the victim of police brutality.

However Interior Ministry officials said that after the boy was taken into custody police realised he was suffering from "extreme exhaustion" and sent him to hospital, where he died on Saturday.

The official cause of death is kidney failure.

Police sources denied allegations that the boy was maltreated.

Clashes resumed on Tuesday after the boy's funeral. Burning tyres were thrown at the police station and one report spoke of a heavy black cloud hanging over part of the city. A post office and several other buildings were also attacked by rioters, some armed with rifles.

Streets were littered with stones, broken glass and smouldering tyres.

Trouble spot

Riot police have taken up position outside government buildings and banks, and are also patrolling the city centre.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley in the Jordanian capital says a calm of sorts has now returned to Maan.

A committee of enquiry has been set up to investigate how the teenager died.

Maan - a poor city which lies over 200 kilometres (140 miles) south of Amman - has been the scene of protests in the past.

In 1998, the army was sent in to disperse demonstrations in support of Iraq, and there have also been protests over price rises.

See also:

27 Dec 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Jordan
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