Taliban militants beheaded 15 men and two women for holding a late night party with music and dancing, according to Afghan officials.
By Ben Farmer, Kabul
3:20PM BST 27 Aug 2012
Hamid Karzai ordered a full investigation into the “mass killing”. “This attack shows that there are irresponsible members among the Taliban,” the Afghan president said in a statement.
The attack occurred in an area of Musa Qala district which is almost totally under Taliban control and Afghan officials said an investigation into the deaths was being hampered because they could not reach the area.
Nematullah Khan, governor of Musa Qala, said the Taliban had tried to stop the party. “They were having a music party and the Taliban came and killed them and cut off their heads,” he said.
Shooting was heard at the scene, he said, and it was unclear if they had been shot dead first.
Parties and social occasions in Afghanistan are usually strictly segregated and there is no mixing of men and women unless they are related.
An elder from the area confirmed a group of young men had held an “immoral” party at a house and had been attacked and killed.
Juma Khan said: “Unfortunately the young men do this sometimes. They had a party with music and dancing and they were behaving badly with the women.”
However he said the killing may have been driven by a local feud, with enemies of the guests either tipping off the Taliban, or pretending to act with their authority.
A statement from the provincial governor’s office later claimed the massacre was caused by two Taliban commanders fighting over the women, but did not explain how so many civilians came to be beheaded.
Hours after the massacre, an Afghan army checkpoint was stormed elsewhere in the province and 10 soldiers killed.
A spokesman for the governor said the post in Washer district was believed to have been betrayed by insiders and five soldiers who were missing after the attack were being investigated.
Meanwhile two American soldiers were shot dead by an Afghan comrade after an argument during a joint patrol.
Monday’s shooting in the eastern province of Laghman brought the Nato coalition death toll from so-called green on blue killings to 42 this year, and 12 in August alone.
American soldiers returned fire and shot dead the Afghan soldier.