Afghan policeman kills 9 colleagues
Kabul - An Afghan policeman shot dead nine of his colleagues as they slept early on Friday in the eastern province of Paktika, police and provincial government officials said.
It was the latest in a series of shootings by Afghan security personnel of their local and foreign colleagues, deaths that have ramped up tensions between the allies even as Nato-led forces prepare to pull out by the end of 2014.
Paktika provincial police chief Dawlat Khan said the shooting happened before dawn in Yahyakhil district on Friday.
"A local policeman named Asadullah was persuaded by Taliban insurgents to carry out the firing inside the security check post," he said.
"First he poisoned his colleagues and then later he woke up for night duty at 03:00. Then he used his assault rifle to kill his nine colleagues. They were sleeping inside the post."
Asadullah fled the scene after the shooting, he added.
Taliban claims attack
Mokhlis Afghan, spokesperson for the Paktika governor, confirmed the attack and that one policeman had fled, adding that two others had been arrested.
The killer and his victims belong to the so-called local Afghan police, militias that form part of the government's security forces but do not come under the national police set-up.
Paktika is a hotbed of the Haqqani network, essentially a faction of the Taliban allied to al-Qaeda, and neighbours Pakistan's tribal belt, which Washington considers to be a global hub of al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.
The Taliban, who have been fighting an insurgency against Hamid Karzai's government in Kabul and its Western allies for more than a decade, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a text message sent to AFP: "Last night, a mujahid fighter attacked a security check post. As a result, he killed nine puppet local policemen.
"The mujahid fighter has managed to escape and joined the Taliban ranks."
17 foreign troops dead
Members of both Afghan units and Nato's US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have been targeted by Afghan security personnel in a series of attacks this year.
So far this year 17 foreign troops, including at least seven Americans and five French trainers, have been killed in such "green on blue" attacks, more than one in six of the 93 ISAF fatalities since January 1.
The shootings threaten to undermine efforts to train Afghan troops to take over security for the entire country ahead of ISAF pulling out by the end of 2014, the cornerstone of the West's strategy in Afghanistan.
Relations between the allies on the ground have frayed, with Nato troops ordered to adopt strict new security precautions to counter the threat.
ISAF commander, US General John Allen, issued orders in recent weeks calling for some advisers to carry weapons and for Nato units to designate one team member as a "guardian angel", who remains armed and on alert for possible fratricidal attacks, officials have said.
Earlier this month, nine Afghan police were killed in the southern province of Uruzgan province in an insurgent attack that authorities said was believed to have been facilitated by a fellow officer and suspected Taliban infiltrator.
In February, five policemen were poisoned and shot in the city of Kandahar, with their cook fleeing and their guns missing.