Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, has said the country's law enforcement officials have thwarted a plot to assassinate her and other government officials.

Nearly a dozen people have been arrested in the alleged plot, including members of the army and police force, Dwayne Gibbs, Trinidad and Tobago police commissioner, said on Thursday.

Security services in the country, a leading Caribbean gas and oil producer, have been placed on high alert after the discovery of the threat, a police spokesman said.

Local media, citing an unnamed government source, said an assassination plot against Persad-Bissessar and three of her cabinet members was uncovered.

"We want to confirm the protective services have unearthed a threat to national security," the police spokesman said. "I don't want to disclose any further details at this time because this could compromise the operation of the investigations."

The twin-island nation, a leading supplier of liquefied natural gas to the United States, has been under a state of emergency since August.

Persad-Bissessar declared the security measure, which suspends some constitutional guarantees and gives the police and military sweeping powers to make arrests, in an attempt to halt what she said was a surge in violent crime tied to the drug trade.

It came in response to a spate of murders blamed on drug trafficking and turf wars over smuggling routes through Trinidad and Tobago, which is a trans-shipment point for South American cocaine headed to Europe and the US.

Trinidad and Tobago have also faced a growing crime problem stemming from heavily armed street gangs.

Source: Agencies