AMMAN, JORDAN - Gunmen attacked two police stations in Jordan on Wednesday as demonstrators threw rocks and denounced their king over price hikes in a rare spike of violence.
One attacker was killed in the assaults, the first fatality in demonstrations in the kingdom this year. Thirteen police officers were among 17 seriously wounded in the attack in Jordan's north, police said. A police corporal was critically wounded in the second.
Two days of angry protests have threatened to plunge the U.S.-allied kingdom into a wave of unrest.
So far, King Abdullah II has steered his nation clear of the Arab Spring that has swept across the region, toppling the rulers of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen along the way. But Jordan's massive budget deficit and other economic woes could increasingly push the population into the opposition camp.
The motive of the bloody attack on the police station in the town of Wasatiyeh, on the western edge of the city of Irbid near the Syrian border, was not immediately clear, and authorities were investigating, a police official said on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to make press statements.
A Wasatiyeh resident identified the dead gunman as Qais Omari, 22, an activist with Jordanian youth movements taking part in the protests. The resident insisted on anonymity for fear of police retribution.
Gunmen staged another armed attack on a police station in the capital, Amman. The police official said gunmen sprayed the building from a moving car in Shafa Badran district, critically wounding a police corporal who was shot in the eye. He said the vehicle sped off as the attackers fired automatic weapons at cars in the street.
Tensions rose late Tuesday after the government raised prices for cooking and heating gas by 54 percent to rein in a bulging budget deficit and secure a $2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.