KABUL, Afghanistan Taliban insurgents poisoned and then shot to death 17 people in an overnight attack on a government-backed militia post in eastern Afghanistan, an official said Wednesday.
The militants somehow poisoned those inside the outpost, incapacitating them, before gunning them down Tuesday night, said Abdul Jamhe Jamhe, a leader of the Ghazni provincial government. The method of poisoning was unclear, he added.
The dead included 10 members of the government-backed Afghan local police, and seven of their civilian friends, said Provincial Gov. Musa Khan Akbarzada. He says there was a conspiracy of some sort but declined to confirm if poison was involved.
The lightly trained Afghan Local Police, a village-level force backed by U.S. troops and overseen by the Ministry of the Interior, is tasked with helping bring security to remote areas.
But President Hamid Karzai has expressed concern that without careful vetting, the program could end up arming local troublemakers, strongmen or criminals.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack. He told The Associated Press by telephone that the attackers shot the men dead in their sleep but that no poison was involved.