AMMAN, Jordan — Security forces pulled the bodies of three suspected militants from the wreckage of a building in a central Jordanian city on Sunday following a shootout in which four security personnel were also killed, the government said.
In a huge security operation, Jordanian forces laid siege to the building in a residential part of the city of Salt on Saturday night in search of those responsible for a bomb attack on a police van on Friday.
The police vehicle had been maintaining security near a music festival in the majority Christian town of Fuhais, near the capital, Amman, and about 10 miles from Salt.
Four security personnel were killed during the operation after the suspected militants sought sanctuary in the multistory building in Salt, the government said.
Five suspects were also arrested during the raid.
A side of the building had partially collapsed, possibly because of a blast from a suicide bomber inside, a security source said.
The shootout also left at least 20 people injured, including women and children living in the area.
Security forces seized automatic weapons during a search of what was left of the building, Jumana Ghunaimat, a government spokeswoman, said.
No group has claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack on the van in Fuhais, in which one police officer was killed and six others were injured.
Militants from the Islamic State and other radical jihadist groups have long targeted Jordan, and dozens of militants are currently serving long prison terms here.
King Abdullah, a Middle East ally of Western powers against Islamist militancy who has also safeguarded Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel, has been among the most vocal leaders in the region in warning of threats posed by radical groups.
Chairing a meeting of the country’s national security council on Sunday, the monarch warned at militants would pay for targeting the country.
“We will fight the Khawarij and strike at them without mercy and with all strength and determination,” the king said in a statement.
Khawarij is a term for radical groups such as the Islamic State who declare Muslims they disagree with as apostates.
Officials have not disclosed the identity of the militants but security officials say some evidence points to Islamic State-affiliated sleeper cells inside the kingdom.
The security forces were investigating if the militants were part of a wider sleeper cell network of Islamist radicals that had planned a series of attacks, an official source said.
Jordan said in January that it had foiled an Islamic State plot that included plans for a series of attacks on security installations, shopping malls and moderate religious figures.
Security forces have been extra vigilant with warnings that sympathizers of the Islamic State could launch revenge attacks after the 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 widespread corruption is fueling a rise in radicalization among disaffected youths in a country with high unemployment and growing poverty.