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Jordan arrests 11 in 'al Qaeda-linked terror plot'

Officials in Jordan say they have foiled a major terrorist plot and arrested 11 suspects. Local media reported the suspects were planning to attack shopping malls and diplomatic missions.

Jordan's General Intelligence Department announced the arrests in a statement reported by state television an other media on Sunday evening.

"The General Intelligence Department has foiled a terrorist plot against national security by an 11-member terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda's ideology," the statement said.

The suspects are reported to have been planning to attack shopping malls, cafes and foreign embassies in Amman, using car bombs, suicide bombers and what the statement described as "guerrilla attacks."

Security officials said the plotters had planned to use weapons and explosives smuggled into the country from Syria.

"The prisoners came across the border from Syria and were caught red-handed," government spokesman Sami Maayatah said. He added that weapons and maps showing the locations of the sites they planned to attack had been seized.

At the same time, though, he stressed that the alleged plot would not affect Jordan's relations with Damascus.

"We are treating this as a national security issue, and it has no ties with the Syrian crisis or the influx of Syrian refugees," Maayatah said.

AFP quoted a judicial source who said the 11 suspects had been turned over to a military tribunal and that prosecutors had already started interrogating them.

Jordan is a key US ally in the region and has experienced terrorist attacks in the past. In 2005, 60 people were killed in suicide bomb attacks at luxury hotels in Amman.

pfd/tm (Reuters, AFP, dpa)