AMMAN, Jordan — A Jordanian police officer opened fire at a training center in the capital, Amman, on Monday, killing two United States
training officers and a South African
before he was shot and killed, American and Jordanian officials said.
A Jordanian government spokesman, Mohammad Momani, said that three training officers with the public security department had been killed at a compound in east Amman that is used to train Palestinians and Iraqis
, and that the gunman had been killed by the police at the scene.
Mr. Momani said that two Americans and four Jordanians had been wounded, and that one was in critical condition. He said an investigation was underway.
An American official, who asked not to be identified because he was describing early reports, said that the Americans who had been killed were contractors, not active-duty military officers. Another American official confirmed that account.
The gunman was described by one of the American officials as a Jordanian police officer who had been fired.
The State Department runs and finances the program to train Iraqi and Palestinian police, and the United States Embassy in Amman said in a statement that it had received news of a security breach at the Jordan International Police Training Center, although it did not elaborate.
“We have received reports about a security incident at J.I.P.T.C.,” the statement said. “We are in contact with the appropriate Jordanian authorities, who have offered their full support. We will report more information when available and appropriate.”
The embassy issued a separate statement later in the day urging “individuals to please avoid that area for the time being.”
The compound is on the edges of Amman, in a neighborhood called Muwaqqar, and staffed with instructors from the United States, Britain
and elsewhere, said Michael Herzog, a retired Israeli
general and a fellow at the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy.
Palestinians from government security forces and presidential guards have also received training at the compound, Mr. Herzog said. It was not immediately clear who was at the compound during the attacks.
Jordan is a close ally of the United States and it has been participating in the United States-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria
In February, Jordan intensified airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in retaliation for the immolation of one of its pilots, First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, who was captured after his F-16 went down in northern Syria.
Jordan and Turkey
were the two countries in which the Pentagon based a $500 million program to train and equip Syrian opposition forces fighting the Islamic State. That program was recently abandoned in favor of one to equip existing opposition forces, primarily Arab fighters in eastern Syria. The C.I.A. also has a covert program to train Syrian rebels in Jordan.
But the United States’ Arab allies have been playing a less-active role in the battle against the Islamic State recently. The United Arab Emirates carried out its most recent strikes in Syria in March, Jordan in August and Saudi Arabia in September, according to information provided by allied officials.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are now focusing on the battle against Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Jordan has also diverted resources to the conflict there in a demonstration of support for the Saudis.
The timing of the training center attack — 10 years after suicide bombers attacked three hotels in Amman on Nov. 9, 2005, killing nearly 60 and wounding more than 100 — immediately raised questions about whether there was a link.
During the 2005 attack, three suicide bombers tore through the lobby of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, a wedding party at the Radisson SAS Hotel down the street, and at the Days Inn Hotel several miles away, minutes apart. More than half of the victims were Jordanians.