Morocco has announced the arrest of three men suspected of seeking to join the extremist Islamic State group's Libyan branch.

The statement Thursday by the Interior Ministry said the men were arrested in the coastal city of Casablanca and Oujda, which is on the Algerian border. All three came from the town of Sidi Bennour.

The statement described Libya as a "magnet" for extremists in the region. A number of extremist groups in Libya have recently pledged allegiance to the Syria-based Islamic State group and are battling local militias.

More than a thousand Moroccans have left to join extremist groups, usually fighting in Syria.

The Moroccan statement said those arrested had links with three others arrested on Dec. 31, also from Sidi Bennour and seeking to go fight in Libya.