KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban insurgents poisoned, then shot and killed 17 people as they slept at a local police post in eastern Afghanistan, one of two attacks in as many days targeting Afghan security forces, an official said Wednesday.
It's unclear how the militants were able to drug people inside the post before firing bullets into their incapacitated bodies Tuesday night, said Abdul Jamhe Jamhe, a government official in Ghazni province.
Ten members of the Afghan Local Police, a village-level defense force backed by the U.S. military and Afghan government, and seven of their civilian friends died in the attack, said Provincial Gov. Musa Khan Akbarzada. He said there was a conspiracy of some sort but declined to confirm if poison was involved.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in Andar district. He told The Associated Press by telephone that the attackers fatally shot the men in their sleep, but denied they had been poisoned.
Residents of Andar took up arms last spring and chased out insurgents. The villagers don't readily embrace any outside authority, be it the Taliban, the Afghan government or the U.S.-led NATO military coalition.
The lightly trained village defense force, which is overseen by the Interior Ministry, 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.
In other violence, a suicide bomber slid under a bus full of Afghan soldiers and blew himself up in Kabul, wounding 10 in an attack that underscored the insurgency's ability to attack in the heavily guarded capital. Kabul police said at least six soldiers and four civilians were wounded. The suicide attacker died.
The bomber, wearing a black overcoat, approached the bus purposefully in heavy morning snow as soldiers were boarding, set down his umbrella and went under the chassis as if to fix something, according to a witness. Watching from across the street, office worker Ahmad Shakib said he thought for a moment the man might have been a mechanic.
"I thought to myself, what is this crazy man doing? And then there was a blast and flames," that engulfed the undercarriage, he said. "It was a very loud explosion. I still cannot really hear."
Bakery owner Mirza Khan said the blast shattered the windows of his nearby shop where people were waiting to buy bread, leaving six wounded.
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