A Jordanian soldier was killed before dawn on Monday in a clash with militants trying to cross the border into neighbouring Syria, the Information and Culture Minister Samih Maaytah told AFP.
He said that “corporal Mohammed Abdullah al-Manasir, 25 years old, was martyred during a clash with an armed group that was trying to enter Syria.”
A military statement said that soldiers guarding the border, who have been reinforced since the beginning of the conflict in neighbouring Syria, exchanged fire during the night with two separate groups comprising 13 gunmen in total.
The first group “consisted of eight militants who tried to cross the border into Syria at 22:30 (1930 GMT),” an unnamed military official said in the statement.
An ensuing exchange of fire with the army killed the corporal before several of the gunmen were arrested “in possession of Kalashnikovs and automatic weapons,” he added.
A separate clash occurred with another “armed Takfiri (jihadist) group that tried to cross the border at midnight (2100 GMT), the statement said, adding that all five members of that group were arrested, one with injuries.
The violence came just hours after Jordan announced it had foiled a “terrorist plot” and arrested 11 Al-Qaeda suspects who planned to carry out suicide attacks against shopping malls, foreigners and diplomatic missions in the kingdom.
Maaytah said on Sunday the Al-Qaeda suspects were arrested after crossing the border from Syria.
Since the Syrian conflict erupted in March last year when President Bashar al-Assad responded with brutal violence to an initially peaceful popular uprising, tens of thousands of Syrians have fled to Jordan.
Amman says more than 200,000 Syrian refugees have crossed into its territory since last year.
The kingdom has been targeted by numerous Al-Qaeda attacks in the past, notable in 2005 when the bombings of three hotels in the capital Amman killed 60 people.