Tunis: Gunmen attacked the home of the country’s top security official while his family was inside and killed four of the policeman standing guard outside, Tunisia’s Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

The statement said the attack on Interior Minister Lutfi Ben Jeddou’s home in the southern city of Kasserine took place just before midnight and involved six or seven attackers.

The Tunisian public radio said that the minister’s family, including his wife, two children and two brothers had been inside the house during the attack and were unharmed.

Kasserine, in Tunisia’s impoverished interior, is near Mount Chaambi, where soldiers have been battling Al Qaida-linked extremists near the Algerian border. Two soldiers were killed on Friday when their vehicle hit a mine on the mountain.

On Sunday, Tunisia announced a string of successful security operations against the Islamist radicals, who have targeted industrial and tourist sites.

Some 16 suspects were arrested, including three Tunisians who had just crossed over from Libya and are believed to be part of the banned, Al Qaida-linked Ansar Al Sharia organisation.

The government has blamed a string of political assassinations and terrorist attacks over the last two years on the group, which was also been implicated in an attack by a mob in 2012 against the US embassy and a nearby American school. Cars were burnt and the school was destroyed.