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AMMAN: Militants behind an attack on Jordanian police supported Daesh and investigations had revealed plans for more attacks on security and civilian targets, Jordan’s Interior Minister Sameer Al-Mobaideen said on Monday.
Jordanian police said on Saturday a homemade explosive device planted near a police van killed a policeman and injured six others the day before.
The police vehicle had been maintaining security near a music festival in the majority Christian town of Fuhais, near the capital Amman and 15 km from the hillside city of Salt.
In a huge security operation, Jordanian forces laid siege to a building in a residential part of Salt on Saturday night in search of those responsible for the bomb attack.
After the suspected militants refused to heed calls to surrender, the security forces stormed the building in a shootout that resulted in the death of three militants and four security personnel, police said. Ten members of the security forces were also injured.
The minister said the militants, who blew up part of the building when the security forces stormed it, did not belong to a specific group but subscribed to Daesh ideology.
Militants from Daesh and other radical groups have long targeted Jordan and dozens of militants are serving long prison terms.
“There were plots to wage a series of terror attacks that sought security points and popular gatherings. We know the targets but we won’t tell them so people won’t get terrified,” Mobaideen said.
King Abdullah warned on Saturday the perpetrators of the attack would pay dearly.
The king has been among the most vocal leaders in the region in warning of threats posed by radical groups.
The group were all Jordanian and there were no signs so far they had foreign links, Al-Mobaideen said, refusing to give names of suspects.
“The investigations are secret and ongoing,” he told a news conference.
Alongside automatic weapons in the suspect’s possession, the authorities found a location where chemical ingredients for manufacturing explosives were buried, Al-Mobaideen added.
Gen.Hussein Hawatmeh, head of Jordan’ Gendarmerie, said the militant cell was recently set up and there were indications its members had embraced radical ideology.
“What is dangerous is that these new recruits are more impulsive than those with experience in executing operations that harm Jordan’s security,” Hawatmeh said.
Jordanian security forces have been extra vigilant having warned that sympathizers of Daesh could launch revenge attacks after militants were driven out of most of the territory they once controlled in Syria and Iraq.
Intelligence officials and some experts believe widening social disparities and a perception of official corruption are fueling a rise in radicalization among disaffected youths in a country with high unemployment and growing poverty.