Authorities in Jordan on Saturday arrested a number of top officials and a royal family member, state news reported, in what appears to have been a thwarted attempted coup.
There were also unconfirmed reports the former crown prince was under house arrest.
The announcement was made by the state-run Petra News agency, quoting an unnamed official who said Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, and Bassem Awadallah, a prominent official who once ran the Royal Court, were arrested “for security reasons” along with “others” after “close monitoring.”
“An investigation into the matter is ongoing,” said the source.
The news comes as a shock in the desert kingdom, a close regional ally of the U.S. often lauded for its stability in a crisis-ridden neighborhood.
Observers and activists on social media said the dragnet had also taken Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, one-time crown prince and stepbrother to Jordan’s King Abdullah II. The monarch replaced him with his eldest son, Hussein, four years into his rule.
A 20-vehicle force was said to have raided Hamzah’s home in a suburb of West Amman, placed him under house arrest and detained members of his security detail, according to unconfirmed reports on social media.
His head of office, Yasser Majali, was picked up after a heavily armed force burst into his relative’s home, according to Basma Al Majali, a family member who wrote of the incident on Twitter. “Communication was lost with them more than three hours ago,” she tweeted.
Al Mamlaka News, a state-funded news broadcaster, denied Prince Hamzah had been detained.
Jordan’s 59-year-old king came to power after his father’s death in 1999. Since then, he has been a top U.S. ally, often allowing U.S. troops to stage operations from Jordanian territory and participating in the anti-Islamic State campaign.