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Jordanian charged with 'terror' over tourist stabbings

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Amman (AFP)

A Jordanian court on Sunday levelled "terrorism" charges against a man suspected of wounding eight people in a November knife attack at a popular tourist site.

The suspect, Moustafa Abourouis, 22, faces up to 20 years in prison after the stabbing of three Mexicans, a Swiss woman, a Jordanian tour guide and a security officer at the Roman city of Jerash.

At a hearing open to the press, prosecutors accused Abourouis of committing a "terrorist act" and "promoting the ideas of a terrorist group" -- a reference to the Islamic State (IS) group.

Abourouis, who is of Palestinian origins and grew up in the refugee camp of Souf, was arrested immediately after the attack at Jerash, close to the camp and around 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Amman.

The Jordanian prosecutor accused Abourouis of trying to join IS, an operative of which in Syria had "ordered him to commit attacks against foreigners".

Two alleged accomplices, also Jordanians of Palestinian origin, were charged with "terrorism" in the same case. All three pleaded not guilty.

The court is scheduled to hear witnesses next Sunday, with the date for a verdict to be confirmed.

It was not the first time a Jordanian tourist attraction has been attacked.

In December 2016, in Karak, home to one of the region's biggest Crusader castles, 10 people -- seven police, two Jordanian civilians and a Canadian tourist -- were killed in an attack that also left 30 wounded.

That attack was claimed by IS and 10 people were later convicted of carrying out the assault, two of them sentenced to death.

Tourism is a key lifeline for Jordan, a country lacking in natural resources and reliant on foreign aid. The sector accounted for 14 percent of GDP in 2019.

The kingdom, bordering conflict-torn Syria and Iraq, has been working to revive its tourism industry and aims to attract seven million holidaymakers a year.

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