August 28, 2012 1:42:05 am
Insurgents beheaded 17 civilians in a Taliban-controlled area of southern Afghanistan,apparently because they attended a dance party that flouted the extreme brand of Islam embraced by the militants,officials said Monday.
The killings,in a district where US Marines have battled the Taliban for years,were a reminder of how much power the insurgent group still wields in the south,particularly as international forces draw down and hand areas over to Afghan forces.
The victims were part of a large group that had gathered Sunday in Helmand provinces Musa Qala district for a celebration involving music and dancing,said district government chief Neyamatullah Khan. He said the Taliban slaughtered them to show disapproval of the event.
All of the bodies were decapitated but it was not clear if they had been shot first,said provincial government spokesman Daoud Ahmadi.
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The Taliban spokesman for southern Afghanistan could not be reached for comment.
Many Afghans and international observers have expressed worries that the Talibans brutal interpretation of Islamic justice will return as international forces withdraw. Under the Taliban,who ruled the country from 1996 to 2001,all music and film was banned as un-Islamic,and women were barred from leaving their homes without a male family member as an escort.
One of the most worrying trends to accompany the drawdown has been a surge in attacks by Afghan forces against their international allies,and another shooting came on Monday morning,though it appeared to be accidental. Two American soldiers were shot and killed by one of their Afghan colleagues in the east,military officials said,bringing to 12 the number of international troops,all Americans,to die at the hands of their local allies this month.
Meanwhile,Helmand officials reported that 10 Afghan soldiers were killed in an attack on a checkpoint in the south,and five were either kidnapped or joined their assailants.
Ahmadi,the provincial spokesman,said insurgents attacked the checkpoint in Washir district Sunday evening. Another four soldiers were wounded he said.
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