Jordan government spokeswoman Asma Khodr told reporters on Tuesday "anti-terrorist" forces surrounded a building in the al-Hashimi al-Shamali neighbourhood after receiving a tip that a group of armed men planning "terrorist attacks" were hiding in the area.

"The gunmen were ordered to surrender, but they fired on [security] forces, who returned fire, stormed the building and killed three suspects,” Khodr told reporters after a cabinet session.

The fourth armed fighter, who was hiding in a tunnel inside the same building, was killed after he opened fire on the security forces, added the spokeswoman.

A senior security official said one of the suspects was Jordanian and the other were foreigners. Some sources indicated the foreign fighters were Iraqis.

Aljazeera correspondent in Amman said a number of civil defence and security forces were wounded during the operation. 

"The Jordanian authorities prevented journalists and reporters from covering their event and confiscated the films," added the correspondent.  

Saving 'thousands of lives'

King Abd Allah said last week security forces had prevented a group from attacking public places and saved "thousands of lives".

"The gunmen were ordered to surrender, but they fired on [security] forces, who returned fire, stormed the building and killed three suspects,” 

Asma Khodr,
Jordan Government Spokeswoman

He said "terrorists planned to bomb government agencies and
strike at civilian institutions" with explosives-packed cars.
 
Officials disclosed earlier this month they had uncovered a group planning to carry out "terrorist attacks", arrested most of its members and were hunting others on the run.

The government has kept silent over the group's identity but security sources told Reuters interrogations with some suspects revealed ties to Usama bin Ladin's al-Qaida network. 

Jordanian intelligence officials have often boasted in recent years that their efforts have foiled plots by al-Qaida-linked fighters to launch deadly attacks on Western targets and government installations.