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Afghan Policeman Poisons, Shoots Dead Seven Fellow Officers

U.S. Marines detain an Afghan suspect during an operation on July 7 in the Garsmir district of Helmand Province, where Western troops are due to hand over security responsibility to local forces.
An Afghan official says that a policeman in southern Afghanistan has killed seven of his fellow officers -- first poisoning them and then shooting them.

The killings took place at a checkpoint in Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern Helmand Province.

Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said the killer fled after stealing ammunition.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said the victims were killed by a Taliban sleeper agent.

Lashkar Gah is one of seven areas where foreign troops are to hand over security responsibility to their Afghan counterparts this week.

In neighboring Kandahar Province, gunmen killed a local tribal leader overnight.

NATO officials have claimed gains in southern provinces in the past year, but insurgent attacks have increased in recent weeks.

Last week, President Hamid Karzai's half-brother was shot dead by one of his bodyguards.

compiled from agency reports