Rioters clashed with police in the village of Sakeb in Jordan on Monday over a food poisoning outbreak that has struck down over 300 people since Thursday. Ten people were injured and property was damaged as residents hurled rocks at police vehicles and blocked roads in the Jerash Governorate town in the north of the country, the Jordan Times daily reported on Tuesday. Security troops took action and anti-riot police fought to break up the protest to maintain order. Jerash Governor Ali Azzam has said the situation is now under control with police remaining in the village to prevent further escalation, the newspaper said. Residents have said the riots began after allegedly offensive statements were made by Health Minister Salah Mawajdeh on Monday during his visit to Sakeb to personally assess the situation. The minister’s office director has since denied the accusations.
Other residents have said the protests started because of a row over the cause of the outbreak, which many locals are blaming on contaminated water, while authorities insist it came from eating bad food from a restaurant that has since been closed down.
Jerash Public Hospital Director Yousef Qoqazeh said that water tests came out negative, while the results of tests on food samples were expected to be out late Monday or Tuesday, the newspaper said. Jordan’s Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit has said the health crisis is over as no new cases have been reported, according to the official Petra News Agency. The outbreak in Sakeb is the third such case in four months. In August nearly 250 people contracted salmonella poisoning from eating chicken shawarmas at a local restaurant in the Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp close to Amman. Two ministers in July quit over a water contamination scandal that saw more than 1,000 Jordanians needing hospital treatment.