Intelligence sources observing the terror attack Sunday, Dec. 18 in the southern Jordanian town of Karakh report that the exchange of gunfire continued into the night after Jordanian forces stormed the Crusader castle where terrorists were holding an unknown number of tourists hostage, and freed some of them.
Jordanian cabinet minister Sameeh Maytah said Sunday night: “The operation is continuing, it has not ended and the criminals are still inside the castle … This was a group that was plotting certain operations inside Jordan.”
He implied that the group came from outside Jordan.
Prime Minister Hani al Mulki told parliament earlier, "a number of security personnel" have been killed and security forces were laying siege to the castle.There are no final figures on casualties in the ongoing battle or how many terrorists are taking part, So far, ten killed are confirmed and 29 injured – some in critical condition.
Among the dead is a Canadian women and several police officers, but the real figures are estimated to be higher.
Clearly, not all parts of the parts of the medieval fort had been secured by the Jordanian force which stormed the castle. At least one group of terrorists is holed up in one of the ancient tunnels holding an unspecified number of tourists.
No organization has owned up to the attack, which our sources report is far more extensive than originally depicted and encompassed villages and rural areas of southern Jordan that are adjacent to Israel’s southeastern border. Police stations and patrols have been routinely hit.
Jordanian state TV interrupted its broadcasts Sunday night for reports on the attack and intervals of martial music. Prime Minister Hani Malki made an appearance in parliament for a special announcement.
debkafile reported earlier when the attack began::
Jordan’s security agencies have reported that the gunmen who went on a shooting spree in the southern Jordanian town of Karakh on Dec. 18, aimed at hitting the tourists who frequent the big Crusader castle in the town, in the same way as the Islamic State shot up tourist targets in Egypt and Tunisia in recent years.
As they drove through the town in four cars, the gunmen shot dead 7 people including four policemen and a Canadian woman and injured nine other people.
They then commandeered the famous castle, trapping groups oftourists inside as hostages. Karakh is about 129 km south of the Jordanian capital, Amman. Jordanian security forces later stormed the castle and freed some of the tourists in a gunfight with the terrorists. At least 29 people were taken to hospital after the shootout – some with serious injuries. It is not clear how many of them were tourists, security officers or terrorists.
debkafile’s counterterrorism sources report that video footage of the castle taken during the event revealed a Jordanian military facility atop the building which may be a communications tower. It is still not clear whether the terrorists hit the facility and what happened to the soldiers manning it.
Some footage also showed the attackers shooting in all directions while breaking into the local police station. Gunshots and explosions came from inside the building.
debkafile’s counterterrorism sources report that, after the deadly terror attack on the southern town of Karakh, gunfights have erupted in two more Jordanian towns, Irbid in the north, and the celebrated rose rock-carved ruins of Petra in the south. The Kingdom of Jordan appears to be under a general Islamic State offensive and has declared a high level alert and sealed its borders. Karakh is 24km from the Ein Bokek tourist site in southern Israel.