| Blood stains near the Mercedes Benz of slain US diplomat Lawrence Foley in Amman. (Reuters)
Amman, Oct. 28 (Reuters): A senior US diplomat was gunned down with three bullets to the chest outside his Amman home today in the first assassination of a Western diplomat in Jordan, officials said.
An unidentified assailant shot the official, named by diplomats as Lawrence Foley, a senior administrator at the US Agency for International Development, (USAID), at 7.30 am (0530 GMT) as Foley was leaving for work, security officials said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the murder.
The killing of the 62-year-old official came at a time of rising anti-American sentiment in the region amid perceived US bias toward Israel and Washington’s threatened military campaign against Iraq.
A month ago the US embassy in Jordan — a strong regional US ally — warned US citizens of a report that a member of the al Qaida network had plans to kidnap Americans in Jordan earlier this year.
Since a landmark peace treaty with Israel in 1994, there have been various attempts in Jordan to kill Israeli diplomats, but with no reported deaths.
A Jordanian security source said Foley was shot at close range before the assailant and possible accomplices fled the scene in an affluent area of the capital Amman.
“One assailant or more was behind the criminal shooting and investigations are ongoing to reveal the culprits,” the security official said. Foley’s wife immediately notified security officials who rushed to the scene and cordoned off the area.
A witness said Foley’s body was lying near his car in the garage of his two-storey villa after the shooting.
“The body of the old man was lying there, with blood near the driver’s door of his Mercedes car that was parked in his indoor garage,” he said.
Jordanian officials expressed shock and indignation at the assassination, the first killing of a Western diplomat in the security-conscious country traditionally seen by the West as a model of stability in a volatile neighbourhood.
“This attack, regardless of its motives, is an attack on the country and its national security,” Petra state news agency quoted information minister Mohammad Adwan as saying.
Later Adwan told reporters that progress was being made by investigators in the case but it was premature to speculate about who was behind the killing. “It’s an isolated incident... it’s very unfortunate that the American diplomat passed away. We are sure who ever has done it is targeting not only not the US but targeting Jordan,” Adwan added.