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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 April 2006, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Jordan 'arrests Hamas militants'
Arms put on display by Jordanian authorities
Jordan has accused Hamas of smuggling weapons into the country
Jordan says it has arrested several members of the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, who it says were planning to carry out attacks in the country.

The detainees had received instructions from a Hamas military leader in Syria and were in the final stages of planning, a government spokesman said.

The Palestinian group rejected the allegations as "outright brazen lies".

Meanwhile, a Hamas spokesman is said to have been arrested by Israeli forces in an overnight raid in the West Bank.

Farhat As'ad was taken into custody after Israeli troops searched his house, according to the official Palestinian news agency. There was no immediate comment from the Israelis.

'False and groundless'

Jordanian government spokesman Nasser Joudeh declined to disclose the identities of the suspects or the Syria-based Hamas military leader, saying the investigation was ongoing.

Map of Jordan

Mr Joudeh said Jordanian security forces had been shadowing attempts to bring in arms from a neighbouring country for a long period of time.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the allegations were "false and groundless" and accused the Jordanian government of taking part in an international campaign against the Palestinian people and Hamas.

The announcement of the arrests comes a week after Jordan cancelled a visit by Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahhar after discovering weapons and explosives it said had been smuggled into the country by Hamas.

The Palestinian group denied those accusations.

Mr Zahhar's visit to Jordan would have been the first by a top Hamas leader since Amman expelled the group's leadership in 1999.

The militant group won Palestinian parliamentary elections in January.


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