AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordanian security forces killed seven Islamist militants overnight in the northern border city of Irbid, a security source said on Wednesday, in one of the country's largest sweeps in years against hardline sleeper cells.
One Jordanian police officer was also killed in the operation, which two security sources said targeted mainly members of the Islamic State group. At least 30 suspects were rounded up.
Dozens of special forces clashed with militants holed up near a Palestinian refugee camp in the center of the city, which is close to the Syrian border, the first source said.
The manhunt began on Tuesday night and ended at dawn, according to officials.
Jordan has tried and sentenced dozens of people, mostly Jordanians, who have returned from Syria, some of whom were recruited by Syria's al Qaeda offshoot Nusra Front or Islamic State.
In a tighter crackdown on followers of radical Islamist groups since last year, it has also arrested dozens of sympathizers who show support for such groups on social media.
Jordan's King Abdullah, a U.S. ally who has safeguarded his country's peace treaty with Israel, has been among the most vocal among regional leaders voicing alarm about the threat from Islamic State, which has taken territory in Syria and Iraq.
Jordan's military has conducted sorties against Islamic State hideouts in Syria.
Since the civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, hundreds of Jordanians have joined Sunni militant groups fighting in the insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad's rule.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have meanwhile fled across the border and are now living in Jordan, some in refugee camps.
Jordan has long been vigilant about the risk of militant strikes in a country that has suffered such attacks before, notably bombings on Amman hotels by al Qaeda-linked militants during the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; editing by John Stonestreet)