Jordan arrests pro-Iraqi leaders as nationwide protests break out

Sunday, March 23, 2003

AMMAN Jordan has cracked down on its pro-Iraqi opposition.

Jordanian security agents have arrested opposition leaders and Islamic militants over the weekend as huge unauthorized protests broke out around the kingdom against the United States. Several dozen people were said to have been detained.

A statement by the opposition coalition said leading members of the Islamic Action Front and leftwing parties were arrested. The opposition also said members of the pro-Iraqi Socialist Baath Party were detained on Friday and Saturday, Middle East Newsline reported.

Officials did not confirm the arrests. But they acknowledged that Jordanian authorities have taken strong measures to prevent further unrest in the kingdom.

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In Amman, thousands of Jordanians ignored a ban on unauthorized demonstrations and fought riot police. The violence was the most intense in the Wihdat neighborhood, inhabited mostly by Palestinians.

On late Friday, Jordanian King Abdullah urged for unity and called on people to express their sentiments in what he termed a civilized manner.

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