x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Loyalist forces clash with Amman pro-democracy groups

Jordanian police beat a protester during a demonstration in Amman.
Jordanian police beat a protester during a demonstration in Amman.

AMMAN // Police and government loyalists clashed with pro-democracy demonstrators in the capital yesterday as hundreds of protesters tried to enter a public square.

Several injuries were reported among protesters, including nine journalists, according to witnesses. Police said seven officers were injured and two were stabbed, one in the abdomen.

The demonstrators, who formed a coalition last week that represents 11 youth movements, marched from Al Husseini mosque to Nakhil Square where they planned to stage a rally demanding press reforms.

They had intended to stage an open-ended sit-in, which the government banned this week.

"Police have attacked us. They beat on my face and kicked and when I fell, I was also beaten with [a] baton. We were just chanting for reforms," said Khaled Nator, 25, a member of the March 24 youth movement.

Although police distributed high-visibility orange vests to journalists to distinguish them from protesters, journalists shed them in protest after other reporters were beaten.

Mohammad Khatib, the police spokesman, said the clashes erupted when police tried to ban loyalists from entering the square to prevent them from clashing with protesters.

"We tried to separate the crowds but there was a stampede and journalists were caught in the middle, which led to injuries. But it is not our policy to target them."

In the past six months, people have been protesting to demand constitutional changes that would allow them to choose their own government.

They also want the government to crack down on corruption.

King Abdullah II offered concessions in a June speech when he said he agreed to a future government based on an elected majority.

But the king did not give any timetable.

smaayeh@thenational.ae