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Jordan says militants killed in raid were IS supporters

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Amman (AFP)

Jordan said Monday that a "terror cell" targeted in a deadly weekend raid by security forces were supporters of the Islamic State group and shared its extremist views.

Saturday's raid, during which three jihadists were killed and five arrested, revealed that the militants were preparing a series of "terrorist" attacks in Jordan, Interior Minister Samir Mubaideen said.

A joint unit of special forces, police and army troops raided a house in Salt, a town northwest of Amman, a day after an officer was killed and six were wounded in a bomb blast in a nearby town during a music festival.

Four members of Jordan's security forces were also killed in the operation.

The suspects "were not part of an organisation but followed its takfiri (Sunni Muslim extremist) ideology and supported Daesh", Mubaideen told a news conference, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

All of them were Jordanians, he said.

"The raid also foiled other plots to carry out a series of terrorist operations against security installations and public gatherings," he said.

Speaking alongside the minister, government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat said "a horrific amount of explosives" was found in the jihadists' hideout.

"The explosives were primed to be used and linked to timers," she said.

The militants were holed up in an apartment in a four-storey residential block in Salt. They blew up the apartment as security forces encircled them and exchanged heavy fire.

Medical sources said 10 people were wounded in the raid, including members of the security forces and residents of the building used as a hideout.

Jordan, a small desert kingdom bordering Syria and Iraq, has been the target of several jihadist attacks. A shooting rampage in 2016 claimed by IS killed 10 people including a Canadian tourist in Karak, known for its Crusader castle.

A close ally of Washington, Jordan has played a key role in the US-led coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq, using its air force against the jihadists and allowing coalition forces to use its bases.

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