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Jordanian police find explosives in residential apartment

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Adds details from security sources

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi

AMMAN, June 22 (Reuters) -Police in Jordan said on Saturday they had discovered and detonated explosives stored in a crowded residential area of the capital close to a military airport used by U.S. army planes, and that they were investigating the incident.

The explosives in a home in the Marka neighbourhood northeast of the capital were detonated at the site after the area was evacuated, according to a statement from the public security directorate.

The statement did not say if police suspected the stash was terrorism related, whether arrests were made, and did not detail the quantity of explosives. It added more details would be published once the investigation was complete.

Witnesses said the flat was nearly one kilometre (0.6 miles) from the Marka military airport used by U.S. planes stationed in the kingdom, and by other coalition partners.

The explosives were discovered after civil defence authorities arrived at the flat following an explosion that was initially believed to have been caused by a gas leak, but may have been a botched attempt to manufacture explosives, former officials and security experts said.

"The indications all point it's a terrorist case and an incident related to radical groups that target the kingdom on the pretext of its stance on Gaza," said Saud Al Sharafat, a former brigadier general in Jordanian intelligence.

U.S. ally Jordan has over 3,500 American troops stationed in several bases and, since the war between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza erupted in October, it has been increasingly targeted by Iranian-backed groups operating in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

Over the past year, Jordan has said it has foiled many attempts to smuggle weapons by parties linked to pro-Iranian militias in Syria.

Iran has denied being behind such attempts.

Many of the arms are bound for the neighbouring Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordanian officials say, adding they have arrested several Jordanians linked to Palestinian militants.

Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi
Editing by Frances Kerry and Mark Potter


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