An Afghan policeman has poisoned and killed nine fellow officers as they slept in a village in the eastern Paktika province. Police blamed the attack on the Taliban.

Dawlat Khan Zadran, a provincial police chief, said the incident took place in Yayakhil town of Yayakhil district early on Friday morning.

"A local policeman named Asadullah was persuaded by Taliban insurgents to carry out the firing inside the security check post," Zadran told the AFP news agency.

"First he poisoned his colleagues and then 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" he said.

The gunman fled the scene immediately after the shooting. There were no survivors, Zadran said.

"The Taliban are telling Al Jazeera that their focus is on the Afghanistan security forces, which is why this incident is important" said Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from Kabul.

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statement on the Taliban website said the attacker had infiltrated the police force several days ago. 

"After accomplishing his mission, [he] loaded all the weapons and ammo of the enemy in a ranger vehicle and left the area safe and sound, [and] later joined Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate" the statement  read.

"This man is a coward. What he did is part of the Taliban conspiracy," Bowal Khan, chief of Yayakhil district said of the gunman.

Khan and Zadran said the killer's two brothers were being held for questioning.

The village police group that the alleged killer was working with was a lightly armed force formed two years ago as part of the Afghan Local Police (ALP). The ALP forms part of the Afghan government's security forces but do not come under the national police set-up.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies