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Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 15:53 GMT
Crackdown after Jordan killing
Newspaper vendor and purchase in Amman on Tuesday
The killing has shocked Jordanians
The authorities in Jordan are reported to have rounded up scores of political activists in a nationwide sweep to catch the killers of a US Government official in Amman.

One Islamist leader was injured in a shoot-out in the southern city of Maan as he tried to escape the security forces.

This heinous crime is something that is completely unacceptable to a lot of us here in Jordan and the perpetrators will be brought to justice

King Abdullah
Police said the man, Muhammad al-Chalabi, known as Abu Sayyaf, was wanted in connection with an attack on a police station in 2001.

Laurence Foley, an employee of the development agency USAID, was shot dead as he left home for his work on Monday.

Opposition sources say the security sweep has targeted suspects across the country in Palestinian refugee camps, various parts of Amman and major cities including Maan.

Security has also been stepped up around Western embassies, and police and paramilitary units have set up roadblocks on the main roads in the capital and elsewhere.

Foley receiving achievement award from US Ambassador Edward Gnehm on Sunday
Mr Foley (left) worked for USAID since 1988
American officials have suggested a political motive may have been behind the killing - the first ever of a member of Jordan's Western diplomatic community and the first of an American diplomat in the Middle East since the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US.

The Jordanian authorities say there has been no credible claim of responsibility for the killing.

The London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi received a statement from a group calling itself Shurafa al-Urdunn (the Nobles of Jordan) saying Foley was killed in protest against US support for Israel and the "bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan".

However, Jordanian officials said there was no evidence that the group - which also claimed responsibility for the shooting of an Israeli diamond merchant in Amman in August 2001 - even existed.

Pressure on king

Jordan's King Abdullah II has led condemnation of the attack and on Tuesday he paid a visit to the US embassy where he offered condolences to Mr Foley's widow.

Accompanied by his wife, Queen Rania, the king also met US Ambassador Edward Gnehm and signed a book of condolence.

King Abdullah and Queen Rania signing condolence book
The king and queen paid their respects at the American embassy
In an interview on US television, he described Mr Foley as a friend, branded his murder "heinous" and vowed to bring the killers to justice.

Jordanian opposition political parties and Islamist groups have issued a statement condemning the killing and saying it was "no solution to tense Arab-US relations".

Correspondents say the killing has increased pressure on the king, who has been trying to maintain good relations with Washington while quelling public dissent over a possible US-led war against Iraq and the Palestinian situation.

Amman has become increasingly dependent on US economic support and is one of the largest recipient of aid from Washington in the world.

Mr Foley's body is expected to be repatriated to the US on Wednesday, according to Jordanian hospital sources.

The BBC's Paul Wood
"The assumption from all sides is that this was a terrorist attack"
See also:

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