Rioters in the city of Maan in southern Jordan set fire to government buildings and police cars on Tuesday in a protest against the killing of two men this week, prompting the government to send security forces to the area to restore order.
Witnesses said hundreds of rioters angry at the authorities' failure to arrest the culprits behind Monday's killings spilled on to the streets of the desert town, setting a court building alight and damaging businesses.
"They hurled stones and burnt tyres in the main streets of the city. Other groups of rampaging masked youths burnt the local court," said one witness, Ibrahim Kreishan.
Interior Minister Saad Hayel Srour told state television after a weekly cabinet meeting that discussed the trouble in Maan, the worst there in many years, that the authorities would take tough measures against the perpetrators.
"We will not be lenient towards a minority who attacked public property and seek to exploit events," said Srour, adding that those who had killed the two Maan residents had been identified.
Security officials said earlier that teargas had been used to disperse hundreds of people who had attacked government property and damaged private shops.
A de facto curfew was in place after the violence subsided and a tense calm prevailed across the sprawling city, punctuated by occasional bursts of gunfire, a security official said.
Residents said the unrest followed the funeral of two workers from prominent Maan tribes who were believed killed in a labour dispute on Monday by Bedouins from the powerful Hwaitat tribe.
They said Hwaitat tribe members were angered that rival tribes from the city of Maan were employed in their hometown in Shidiya, nearly 70 km (45 miles) south of Maan, to build a multi-million dollar water project.
Most of the businesses attacked in Maan on Tuesday belonged to members of the Hwaitat tribe.
Maan is a tribal stronghold of over 40,000 people about 250 km (156 miles) south of the capital Amman, which is known for its defiance of central authority.
Many politicians blame tribal feuds to an erosion in the rule of law as disaffection grows at perceived corruption and wider privileges enjoyed by tribal leaders aligned to the state in contrast to economic hardship among the majority of tribes.
In 2009 the kingdom suffered its worst economic performance since an economic crisis in 1989 when it was forced to seek loan from the International Monetary Fund.
The downturn is making it more difficult for the state to satisfy demands of Jordanians for state jobs as proceeds from foreign aid and tax revenues have shrunk, analysts say.