Seventeen people at a party in southern Afghanistan were attacked and beheaded by insurgents, officials said Monday.
The civilians were apparently targeted because they had "flouted the extreme brand of Islam embraced by the militants," The Associated Press reports. A government spokesman blamed the Taliban.
The news agency quoted a district government chief as saying the party involving music and dancing, activities shunned by the Taliban.
According to the BBC, the bodies of two women and 15 men were found by the side of a road in the Musa Qala district of southern Helmand province.
The AP said:
the killings, in a district where U.S. 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.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan's intelligence agency confirmed on Sunday that the son of the leader of the powerful Haqqani insurgent network, Badruddin Haqqani, was killed in an airstrike in Pakistan.
However, the Taliban claim the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani is alive and well in Afghanistan. Just last week, a senior Taliban leader said that Badruddin was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's North Waziristan region.