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The Taliban has reportedly beheaded 17 Afghan civilians. The murders were reportedly caused by a dispute between two Taliban commanders over women.
There have been conflicting reports of the motivation behind the attacks. One version of the story says the victims were targeted because they attended a mixed-gender party. It is certain that violence broke out at a gathering involving music and dancing.
Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Glasse says, “There are conflicting reports, but what is not disputed is that the Taliban killed 17 civilians."
Provincial government spokesman Daoud Ahmadi said that all of the bodies were decapitated.
This is the second report of Afghan civilian deaths in the past day. Yesterday, Taliban fighters who attacked an army checkpoint killed ten Afghan soldiers.
The violence against Afghan civilians comes at a time of rising Taliban activity. This summer has seen a record number of “green-on-blue” attacks by Afghan police forces on NATO troops. The Taliban has taken credit for these insider attacks.
The Associated Press reports that the Taliban controls large parts of the Musa Qala district where the violence took place. The Helmand province, where Musa Qala is located, has seen the biggest drawdown of U.S. troops – from over 100 thousand last year, to about 70 thousand at present.
There is some concern that the Taliban will gain control over regions that are not protected by Western forces.