Seventeen beheaded by Taliban for mixed-sex dancing

Afghans say mixed-sex party ended in killings by fundamental Islamist group

LAST UPDATED AT 11:45 ON Mon 27 Aug 2012

FIFTEEN men and two women found beheaded in Helmand province, Afghanistan, were executed by the Taliban as punishment for attending a mixed-sex party with music and dancing.

The bodies were discovered this morning near where the had been held on Sunday night, district governor Nimatullah, who goes by one name, told the Reuters news agency. The governor of Helmand, Daud Ahmadi, said a team had been sent to the site of the beheadings to investigate.

Mixed-sex parties are unusual in Afghanistan and usually held in secret. Men and women do not normally mix with each other, claimed the agency, unless they are related or married.

During the fundamentalist group's five years in power before it was ousted by the US in 2002, women lost the right to vote, to do many paid jobs or to leave home without a male relative or husband to accompany them.

In June this year, the Taliban stormed a lakeside hotel near Kabul which they said was used for "wild parties", demanding to know where the "pimps and prostitutes" were. They killed 20 people, says Reuters.

Meanwhile, 10 Afghan soldiers have been killed by the Taliban and two US soldiers have been slain by a rogue Afghan colleague. The US deaths mark the 33rd 'insider' attack so far this year.

Coalition spokesman Brigadier-General Gunter Katz, a German, told reporters that the string of attacks would not "reduce the close relationship with our Afghan partners". He said 10 per cent of the attacks, in which 42 soldiers have been killed, were down to direct infiltration by the Taliban while another 15 per cent were linked to insurgents.

The rest of the attacks are blamed on stress or personal differences between Afghans and their western advisers which lead to violence.

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