Jordan police say they detonated explosives hidden in a warehouse in capital

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi

AMMAN (Reuters) -Jordanian security forces said they uncovered and detonated explosives hidden in a commercial warehouse in an industrial area southeast of the capital Amman on Monday that security sources say were part of an Iran-linked plot to destabilize a key U.S. ally.

Witnesses earlier said security forces had sealed the Abu Alanda area in a wide scale security operation two days after authorities announced they had detonated explosives uncovered in another location in the capital.

The authorities said the explosives found on Monday were hidden by the same group of suspects who stored the explosives uncovered on Saturday in a crowded residential area close to a military airport used by U.S. army planes.

The authorities, who have not disclosed who was behind the storing of munitions or whether arrests have been made, say they will reveal details once the investigations are completed.

Over the past year, Jordan has said it has foiled many attempts to smuggle weapons by infiltrators linked to pro-Iranian militias in Syria, who it says have crossed its borders with rocket launchers and explosives, adding that some of the weapons managed to get through undetected.

Iran has denied being behind such attempts.

Security sources say some of the arms are bound for the neighboring Israeli-occupied West Bank, adding that they have arrested several Jordanians linked to Palestinian militants.

Security officials said the incidents were terror-related based on the quantities of explosives found. They said it is linked to Iran's clandestine efforts to recruit agents to undertake sabotage acts within the kingdom to destabilize a key ally of Washington in the region.

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 neighboring Syria and Iraq.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-KhalidiEditing by Chris Reese and Bill Berkrot)