Jordanian police clash with outlaws near Israeli border

One gunman was killed and several others were arrested after outlaws burned tires and exchanged gunfire Saturday with police after a refusal to pay utility bills and relinquish state property.

Petra said the small group of armed men, using automatic weapons, opened fire at policemen "trying to retrieve state property usurped" by the gunmen and some unnamed individuals, believed to have been stealing electricity and water in a town near the Israeli border.

"Police returned fire, killing one person and arresting (several) others," the agency said, quoting an unnamed security official. It did not provide other details, but said the incident took place in Southern Shuneh, an agricultural town in the Jordan Valley - the country's food basket.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Earlier, witnesses said gunfire could be heard Friday night and again on Saturday as the group shot at government utility offices.

An AP photographer at the scene said security vehicles and anti-riot police sealed off an area leading to the Allenby Bridge, a route used by travelers into the West Bank.

Government spokesman Nasser Judeh said he had little information on the incident but described the perpetrators as "outlaws."

Jordan's Interior Minister Eid al-Fayez also did not provide details about the clashes, saying only that it was "necessary to respect the country's dignity by not allowing any violation against the nation's achievements and by taking necessary measures to stop aggression against state property," according to Petra.

Sheik Sami Affash Edwan, a prominent Bedouin leader heading the influential Edwan tribe, said the outlaws, which included some distant relatives, were also "trying to sabotage my election campaign by shooting at my farm - particularly the water wells."

He said the group was not affiliated with any Islamist group and did not espouse any militant ideology.