- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2002

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) Armored vehicles prowled deserted streets in the sealed southern city of Maan as police searched house to house yesterday for Muslim radicals suspected of holding a giant cache of weapons.
A security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the raid in Maan, scene of pro-Iraq riots in recent years, was part of a campaign to "put things in order before the possible war on Iraq."
He told the Associated Press that authorities were attempting to get all armed groups under control to prevent violent protests. Most Jordanians oppose any U.S. strike at neighboring Iraq, Amman's biggest trading partner.
Police were focusing on the city's al-Tour district, where five gang leaders were believed to be hiding. Another senior security official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the gang is believed to have smuggled a "huge amount of arms" into the city.
Interior Minister Qaftan Majali told the official Petra news agency that searches continued yesterday but the situation was calm. Officials said the curfew had been partially lifted to allow people to buy food.
Five persons are known to have died in gun battles so far. A police officer was killed Monday night in a shootout with gunmen protecting the gang, a government official said. Three gunmen and another policeman were killed earlier.
Fifty persons, including eight foreigners, have been arrested since Sunday, Mr. Majali said. They included gang members and those who resisted police or had weapons in their homes.
Videotape released by the government and shown on state television Monday night showed armored vehicles patrolling nearly empty streets, with shops shuttered.

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