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Tunisia arrests 32 jihadis, some linked to Syria, suspected of plotting major attacks

  • Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi delivers his speech during a cabinet takeover ceremony in Tunis, Friday, Feb. 6, 2015.  Prime Minister Essid, whose cabinet has ministers from four parties including the powerful Islamist group, promised "work and nothing but work" on the country's economic and security problems.  (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)

    Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi delivers his speech during a cabinet takeover ceremony in Tunis, Friday, Feb. 6, 2015. Prime Minister Essid, whose cabinet has ministers from four parties including the powerful Islamist group, promised "work and nothing but work" on the country's economic and security problems. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)  (The Associated Press)

  • Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, front and new Prime Minister Habib Essid stand at attention during a cabinet takeover ceremony in Tunis, Friday, Feb. 6, 2015.  Prime Minister Essid, whose cabinet has ministers from four parties including the powerful Islamist group, promised "work and nothing but work" on the country's economic and security problems.  (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)

    Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, front and new Prime Minister Habib Essid stand at attention during a cabinet takeover ceremony in Tunis, Friday, Feb. 6, 2015. Prime Minister Essid, whose cabinet has ministers from four parties including the powerful Islamist group, promised "work and nothing but work" on the country's economic and security problems. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)  (The Associated Press)

Tunisia's official news agency says authorities have arrested 32 extremists and thwarted an ambitious plot to attack civilian and military sites around the country.

The TAP news agency quotes Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Laroui as saying some of those arrested had traveled to hotspots abroad, including Syria.

The announcement Saturday came just as Tunisia's new government is taking power after a long transition to democracy prompted by the Arab Spring uprisings. A major task for the new leadership will be fighting extremism that has flourished since protesters overthrew authoritarian rule.

Laroui said the hunt for other suspects was still under way, and authorities are particularly monitoring those returning from Syria.

A disproportionately high number of Tunisians have joined the Islamic State group or other extremists in Syria and Iraq.