“I can confirm that this is the work of the Taliban,” the Helmand provincial governor’s spokesman Daud Ahmadi told AFP. “Two women and 15 men were beheaded. They were partying with music in an area under the control of the Taliban.”
The Musa Qala district chief Nematullah Khan confirmed that the villagers had organized a party with music. A local official said he suspected that the two women had been dancing.
The Taliban have enforced bans on the mixing of men and women who were not related in areas that are under their control. But in southern Afghanistan, secret parties with dancing women who come from a “gypsy-like” tribe are commonplace, in defiance of Taliban prohibitions.
Haji Musa Khan, a tribal elder in Musa Qala district, said beheadings in the region had been on the rise in recent months.
“We had three people beheaded during the month of Ramazan. Another person, the son of a tribal elder, was beheaded recently,” he said.
The beheading apparently were a prelude to Taliban forces staging a military attack in the area. Hours after the beheadings, the Taliban attacked an Afghan army post in the same province in a pre-dawn attack on Monday, killing 10 troopers, authorities said.
Regional Post Commander Colonel Mohammad Ismael Hotak told AFP the attack was an “insider” plot in which some army soldiers helped the rebels attack the post.
“The Taliban attacked a post in Washir and killed 10 soldiers. Four other soldiers were wounded and five others have gone with the Taliban with their guns,” he said. “It was an insider plot.”
If it is confirmed that the attack was facilitated by soldiers it will mark a new escalation in a string of insider attacks on Afghan and NATO security forces.