Tourists, guide and officer stabbed in Jordan’s Jerash Roman ruins

The officer was stabbed as he tried to apprehend the attacker at the popular tourist site

A plane carrying tourists, who were injured in a stabbing, lands at King Hussein Medical Center in Amman, Jordan November 6, 2019. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
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Eight people were injured, including four tourists, a tour guide, a bus driver and a police officer, in a knife attack in the ancient city of Jerash in Jordan’s north-west on Wednesday.

The incident in Jerash, one of the country's most visited destinations, threatened to cast a shadow over the vital tourism industry.

The wounded included three Mexican tourists and a Swiss woman, according to a spokesman for Jordan's Public Security office. Along with the tour guide, three other Jordanians, including two security officers and a bus driver, were also hurt before the attacker was subdued and arrested.

Sources told The National that two of the injured were airlifted to King Hussein Medical City in Amman, which is often reserved for serious health problems.

A statement from the Public Safety Department said the injured were four Jordanians, three Mexicans and one Swiss national. The Mexican tourist and the Jordanian police officer are in a serious condition. The rest are stable.

It said that the investigation into the attack had led to an arrest.

Jordanian Health Minister Saad Jaber visited Jerash public hospital to follow up on the conditions of the injured tourists, Jordan's Al Ras newspaper reported.

A Jordanian security source said that the tourists' injuries range from "serious" to "severe" and that the attack took place at the entrance to the historical Roman ruins.

P9K6NW JERASH, JORDAN - APRIL 25, 2016: Roman Oval Forum in the Roman city of Jerash, Jordan. Hilda Weges / Alamy Stock Photo
Roman Oval Forum at Jerash. Alamy

A video shared with by a witness showed at least three victims being treated as they waited for paramedics. One woman is laying on the ground while a man applies pressure to a wound using a traditional red and white Jordanian kaffiyeh scarf. Another man appears to have a chest wound while a third is wrapping a bandage around a wound on his arm.

Another amateur video showed a bloody scene next to the Jerash archaeological site, an ancient city whose ruins include a Roman amphitheater and a columned road.

In one video, a woman can be heard screaming in Spanish. "It's a dagger, it's a dagger, there is a knife. Please, help him now!"

The police officer was reportedly stabbed as he tried to apprehend the attacker.

Jerash, 51 kilometres from Amman, draws thousands of visitors a year to its ancient Hellenic city, the country’s largest Roman site. The area has been inhabited on and off since the first millennium BC.

Jordan's economy relies heavily on tourism, and militant groups and other attackers have in the past targeted tourist sites to embarrass the government or harm the valuable industry. The Jordanian tourism sector has enjoyed a strong rebound over the past two years.

*Taylor Luck and Charlie Faulkner contributed to this report