Taliban insurgents attacked a massive party in an area of southern Afghanistan, beheading 17 people, according to officials reports on Monday.
The Taliban-controlled area attack claimed the lives of 17 civilians, according to a local government official, who added that the celebration involved music and dancing, reports The Associated Press.
The attack took place in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province, and Neyamatullah Khan, the government official, reported that the Taliban killed the 17 partiers, because they flouted the extreme brand of Islam that is embraced by the militants.
Later, however, provincial government spokesman Daoud Ahmadi stated that the 17 killed were caught in a fight between two Taliban commanders over two women who were eventually killed. Ahmadi explained that shooting broke out during the fight, but they were not sure if the music and dancing were actually triggers for the violence, or if the dead included just civilians or also fighters.
The New York Daily News notes that several Afghans and international observers worry that the Taliban could resort back to their brutal interpretation of Islamic justice as international forces withdraw. The Taliban, who ruled in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, banned all music and film as un-Islamic, and also barred women from leaving their houses, unless they were escorted by a male family member.
Helmand is one area that will see the biggest reduction in US troops as they decline from a peak of 103,000 last year to 68,000 by October. Helmand officials are also reporting the death of 10 Afghan soldiers, who were killed at a checkpoint in the south, as well as five that either joined their assailants or were kidnapped.