Four Jordanian security forces die raiding 'terrorist' cell
AMMAN - Jordanian security forces have killed at least three "terrorists" and arrested five others during a raid after an officer was killed in a bomb blast near the capital, the government said Sunday.
Security forces had raided a partially-collapsed building in a search for those responsible for a bomb attack on a police van on Friday that was maintaining security near a music festival.
Four security forces were also killed in the shootout.
Government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat said the security forces had also seized automatic weapons in a "continuing operation."
"The suspects refused to surrender and opened heavy fire toward a joint security force," Ghneimat said in a statement.
The suspects also "blew up the building in which they were hiding, and which they had booby-trapped earlier", she said.
She added that two other "terrorists" were arrested, bringing the total number of people detained in Salt since Saturday to five.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday's bomb blast, which also wounded six other members of the patrol in Al-Fuhais, a mostly Christian town west of Amman.
The identities of the suspects were not known.
One of the members of the security forces wounded during the raid was in "critical condition", Ghneimat said.
"A clean-up operation is still under way," she said, adding that units of the civil defence were at the scene to assess the damage at the building and sift through the rubble.
Ghneimat urged civilians to stay away, warning that "it could totally collapse at any minute”.
Medical sources said that 11 people were wounded during the raid, including members of the security forces and civilians.
Women and children were among those hurt, they said, without giving further details.
Jordanian television broadcast footage of the partially collapsed building and security forces conducting search operations.
Ambulances, bulldozers and police cars were deployed around the building in the Naqab al-Dabour residential neighbourhood in Salt, the footage showed.
The government set up a crisis cell to follow the developments, the state-run Petra news agency reported.
Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz, who chaired the meeting, vowed Saturday that Jordan would "not be complacent in the hunt for terrorists”.
Jordan has played a key role in an international military coalition that helped push back the extremist group Islamic State in neighboring Syria and Iraq.
Jordan is also considered to an important security ally, particularly by the United States and Israel which view any signs of unrest there with concern.
The kingdom has cracked down on suspected militants in recent years, imposing prison terms of several years for suspected sympathizers, including those expressing support for militant ideology on social media.
At the same time, hopelessness and alienation among some of the kingdom's young people, driven by high youth unemployment, have provided fertile ground for recruitment by militant groups.