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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Diplomat Killed at Home in Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan -- An American diplomat was gunned down in a hail of bullets Monday as he walked to his car outside his home in the Jordanian capital, U.S. and Jordanian officials said.

The U.S. Embassy identified him as Laurence Foley of the U.S. Agency for International Development mission, which handles foreign aid and humanitarian programs.

The gunman, possibly aided by others, escaped and there was no immediate claim of responsibility. It was the first fatal shooting of a Western diplomat in Jordan in memory.

While Jordan is officially allied with the United States, anti-American sentiment has been rising with public opposition to a threatened U.S. attack on Iraq, Jordan's eastern neighbor. The kingdom's 1994 peace treaty with Israel has also made it a target for Muslim militants and terrorist groups.

Jordanian Information Minister Mohammed Affash Adwan would not speculate on whether terrorists were involved, but called the attack "an aggression on Jordan and its national security."

Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher went to the U.S. Embassy to express condolences and promised swift action to catch the perpetrator.

"The Jordanian government is going to deal seriously with this horrible crime," he was quoted by the Jordanian news agency Petra as saying.

The U.S. Embassy warned Americans to "remain vigilant." Security was immediately increased at embassies and diplomatic missions.

Foley, 62, was shot as he approached his car around 7:30 a.m. by a gunman using a pistol, according to a senior Jordanian security official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Jordanian security officials said Foley's wife heard shots and called police after the attack outside his house in the middle-class Rawabi district of Amman.

However, neighbors said they did not hear any gunshots, raising questions about whether a silencer was used. The Jordanian security official said only that the attack was apparently "well organized and well planned."

Jordan is known for its tight security, but several attacks have been directed against Israelis in Amman and along the Jordanian-Israel border. Jordan and Egypt are the two Arab states to have peace treaties with Israel.

One Israeli businessman was shot and killed last year in the same neighborhood as Foley, and two Israeli diplomats were wounded by gunshots in 2000.

On Sept. 27, the U.S. government said it had received uncorroborated information indicating that, as of this summer, a member of the al-Qaida organization was considering a plan to kidnap U.S. citizens in Jordan.

U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said then that the government had no information to determine the threat's credibility or any indication of the timing.

But the U.S. Embassy in Jordan notified Americans to be vigilant, and renewed that warning Monday.

Two years ago, a group of 28 Arab men plotted to use poison gas and explosives in attacks against Americans and Israelis in hotels and tourist sites during New Year celebrations in Jordan. The plot was uncovered and foiled in November 1999.