KABUL  - An Afghan policeman poisoned and then shot dead nine of his colleagues while they were sleeping early Friday in the eastern province of Paktika, police and provincial government officials said.

Paktika provincial police chief Dawlat Khan said the shooting happened before dawn in Yahyakhil district.

“A local policeman named Asadullah was persuaded by Taliban insurgents to carry out the firing inside the security checkpost,” he told AFP.

“First he poisoned his colleagues and later he woke up for night duty at 3:00 am. Then he used his assault rifle to kill his nine colleagues. They were sleeping inside the post.” Asadullah fled the scene after the shooting and is on the run, he added, and there were no survivors.

Mokhlis Afghan, spokesman for the Paktika governor, confirmed the attack and that one policeman had fled, adding that two others had been arrested.

The gunman in Friday’s attack 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.

Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a text message to AFP: “Last night, a mujahid fighter attacked a security checkpost. As a result, he killed nine puppet local policemen.

“The mujahid fighter has managed to escape and joined the Taliban ranks.”

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, NATO’s US-led force announced the deaths of two soldiers in the south on Thursday, one in a bomb blast and a second in an insurgent attack.

One Nato service member died in a roadside bomb explosion this morning and the other in an insurgent attack yesterday.

No further details were disclosed, but the deaths bring the number of international troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year to 88.