Decapitated bodies of 15 men and two women were found in a small town in southern Afghanistan Monday following a dance party attended by both sexes, local officials said, according to Reuters.
Also in Afghanistan, two US soldiers were shot and killed by one of their Afghan colleagues, according to the Associated Press. Afghan officials said the killings were an accident, but a Defense Dept. official told the AP it may have been "intentional."
The beheaded corpses were found in a home near Musa Qala in Helmand province, district governor Nimatullah, who goes by one name, told Reuters. The attack was swiftly condemned by the US, Britain, the United Nations and General John Allen, the NATO commander in Afghanistan, according to AFP.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack. The Associated Press said "insurgents" were to blame, while Reuters cited local officials blaming the Taliban. The scene at which the event reportedly took place — a mixed-sex party with dancing and music — would be considered morally unacceptable by militantly religious groups like the Taliban.
"The reason for the slaughter was variously given as a fight between two Taliban commanders over women, Taliban anger over a music and dance party, or an insurgent crackdown on suspected government informers," The Guardian explained.
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Provincial governor spokesman Daud Ahmadi told Agence-France Press that 17 people were beheaded by members of the Taliban. Local security officials had been investigating the incident, according to Ahmadi. "I can confirm that this is the work of the Taliban," he told AFP.
The Taliban does have a strong presence in the area, according to SKY News, and such attacks appear to be on the rise.
A local tribal elder, Haji Musa Khan, told SKY four other beheadings had been seen in the area recently.
No group has yet claimed responsibility, and the Taliban has not been responsive to requests for comments.