Taliban kills 17 civilians in remote Afghan region


THE TALIBAN has killed 17 civilians, reportedly by cutting their throats, in a remote and violent corner of Afghanistan’s Helmand province which government officials admit is entirely beyond their control.

The reason for the slaughter was variously given as a fight between two Taliban commanders over women, Taliban anger over a party with music and dancing, or an insurgent crackdown on suspected government informers.

The group, which included two women, were killed early on Sunday afternoon, but news of their deaths reached government-held areas only on Monday.

“This happened in a desert area known as Roshanabad, which is not under the control of the government,” said the Kajaki district governor, Mullah Sharafuddin, who said he did not know the motive behind the attack.

“I am the governor, but I don’t have full details because this land is under Taliban control.”

The Helmand police commander’s office said it had been told the 17 victims were targeted as government spies.

The provincial governor’s spokesman, Daoud Ahmadi, said the dead were probably caught up in a fight between two rival Taliban commanders for control of the women.

“There are two Taliban commanders, Mullah Wali Mohammad and Mullah Sayed Gul, that control the area near Kajaki, but they argued about the two women,” Mr Ahmadi said.

“We don’t know exactly what the differences are, but the killing was because of the difference between the two commanders over these women. Their throats were slit but their heads were not completely cut off.”

President Hamid Karzai blamed the Taliban and ordered a full investigation. “This attack shows that there are irresponsible members among the Taliban,” he said.

It had been reported earlier that the 17 civilians had been beheaded because of being at a party that insurgents considered immoral. “The victims a late-night dance and music party when the Taliban attacked,” the Reuters news agency quoted the governor of nearby Musa Qala district as saying.

The Taliban could not be reached for comment. – (Guardian service)