Tunisia's Interior Ministry says that Islamist extremists have slit the throat of a police officer and knifed him in the heart as he returned from work.

A ministry statement said the officer was attacked early Sunday on his way home in a rural zone in Zaghouan, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Tunis.

A spokesman for the union overseeing security, Mounir Khemili, said the attackers also used a saber to cut off a finger of his right hand.

In December, a National Guard member was beheaded in Kef near the Algerian border where security forces have been fighting extremists holed up in the mountains.

Despite sporadic attacks, Tunisia elected a new president, Beji Caid Essebsi, last month.