Officials in southern Afghanistan say Taliban insurgents have beheaded 17 Afghan civilians, including two women.
The Interior Ministry says the civilians were killed late Sunday in the Kajaki district of Helmand province.
There were conflicting reports about the reasons behind the killings. Earlier, Afghan officials said the Taliban attacked a late-night party because insurgents disapprove of music and dancing. But Helmand’s governor said the killings followed a long-standing feud between two Taliban commanders over the two women.
A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, denied the group was involved in the attack, which Afghan President Hamid Karzai called an “unforgivable crime.”
NATO and the European Union also condemned the killings.
Officials also say insurgents overran an Afghan military post, killing 10 Afghan troops Sunday in Helmand’s Washir district. A local official said five other Afghan soldiers were either kidnapped or joined the attackers.
In eastern Afghanistan, NATO officials say an Afghan soldier turned his weapon on two American servicemen, killing them. NATO troops returned fire, killing the soldier.
Monday’s attack brings the number of foreign soldiers killed in such violence this month to 12. This year, 42 international troops have been killed in at least 33 insider attacks.
Last week, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, General John Allen, said many of the attacks are due to personal grievances and arguments, with about 25 percent attributed to Taliban infiltration, impersonation or coercion.
On Monday, NATO spokesman Brigadier General Gunter Katz said such attacks will not lead to less cooperation between the coalition troops and their Afghan counterparts. He told reporters in Kabul, “we are not going to reduce the close relationship with our Afghan partners.”