At least 12 Afghan army soldiers were killed in their sleep on Monday night after two fellow soldiers poisoned them and later opened fire on them in Afghanistan’s embattled northern Kunduz province in the latest so-called “insider attack”.

The two soldiers with links to the Taliban have fled and joined the insurgents shortly after carrying out the overnight attack , said Sher Aziz Kamawal, a senior police commander in Kunduz.  The Afghan Defense Ministry launched an investigation into the incident according to General Dawlat Wazir, the spokesman for the ministry.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, but said the base was attacked by its troops and all weapons were seized.  The Defense Ministry however has not  clarified the soldiers’ affiliation with the insurgent group for the moment.

The outpost was among many forming a protective ring around Kunduz, which was briefly captured by the Taliban a year ago, the first time the movement had seized a provincial capital since losing power in 2001. Insider attacks have plagued both Afghan and international military forces in the country, undermining trust and morale. The Western-trained and backed Afghan government forces are battling various insurgent groups, including the Taliban, who say they are fighting to expel foreign troops and reestablish a fundamentalist Muslim regime.

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