KANDAHAR (AFP) - A rogue Afghan policeman drugged his colleagues before shooting five of them dead, officials said on Thursday (Feb 11), the latest in a series of "insider attacks" which have blighted pro-government forces battling the Taleban.
The incident took place on Wednesday night at a checkpoint where 13 policemen were posted in southern Kandahar province, scene of some of the heaviest fighting between the Western-backed government and the Taliban in recent years.
The attacker was later shot dead by the police from a nearby checkpoint who approached after hearing the firing.
"Around 9pm, a rogue policeman turned his weapon on his colleagues in a police checkpoint in Zherai district of Kandahar province," Mr Rahmatullah Atrafi, deputy police chief for the province, told AFP.
"Tragically, we have five policemen martyred and seven others were wounded - they fell asleep after being drugged," he added.
The provincial governor spokesman Samim Khpalwak confirmed the account to AFP.
Taleban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi later claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the policeman, who had served in the force for two years, had been planted by the militant group.
Mr Ahmadi added the attack was revenge for the death of civilians in the Khakrez district of Kandahar during a security forces raid.
So-called insider attacks - when Afghan soldiers and police turn their guns on their colleagues or on international troops - have been a major problem during Nato's long years fighting alongside Afghan forces.
The Afghan military, which was rebuilt after the fall of the Taleban regime in 2001, has struggled with the phenomenon, as well as high casualty rates and mass desertions.
Last month, a rogue Afghan policeman drugged and then shot dead 10 of his colleagues in a police post in the Chinarto district of Uruzgan province.