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Minister: Authorities quash plot to carve up Tunisia into 3 Islamic emirates

Tunisia's interior minister says authorities have dismantled a plot by extremist Salafi Muslims to slice up the North African country into three Islamic emirates.

Lotfi Ben Jeddou also told Mosaique FM radio Wednesday that security services have disrupted jihadist plots in recent weeks to assassinate political figures and carry out bombings in central Tunisia and near the capital, Tunis.

The minister, who took office six months ago, says he's tallied some 300 arrests in terrorism case files being prosecuted by investigating magistrates.

Ben Jeddou said questioning of detainees led authorities to believe that about 30 alleged terrorists are currently holed up in Tunisia's western mountains, including Kamel Gadhgadhi, the man suspected of killing left-wing opposition legislator Chokri Belaid in February.

Tunisia has been battling al-Qaida-linked extremists since its 2011 revolution.