Afghan police officers killed 10 colleagues

An Afghan policeman, suspected of collaborating with insurgents, drugged and then shot dead 10 of his colleagues in the southern province of Uruzgan, officials say.

A provincial governor spokesman told the BBC the incident took place at a police checkpoint in the Chinartoo district early Tuesday. He said the suspect first drugged the 10 policemen and then fatally shot them.

Officials said an operation had been launched to hunt down the assailant as Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the killing.

The development came only a week after nine policemen were shot dead in the same Afghan province by at least four men disguised as police officers.

The latest violence comes days after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani warned in a BBC interview that if peace talks with the Taliban do not begin by the spring of this year, the conflict could intensify with consequences for the region.

The president said more effort is being made to restart peace talks with the Taliban. They collapsed last year after tentative steps.

The Taliban have stepped up their insurgency despite an acrimonious leadership dispute following the death of their long-time leader Mullah Omar.