LONDON — Britain on Monday condemned "in the strongest terms" reports that Taliban Islamist insurgents had beheaded 17 civilians at a party in Afghanistan's Helmand province.


Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said he was "appalled" at the killings and also at an attack on a checkpoint in the province which killed 10 Afghan soldiers.

"I am appalled at the cruel killing of 17 people at a party.... The facts are still being established but early indications are that the Taliban were responsible," he said in a statement.

"We condemn acts of extreme violence like this in the strongest terms."

The Taliban were responsible for beheading the civilians, including two women, who were holding a party with music in a southern Afghanistan village, officials said.

"This incident, alongside the attack today on a Helmand checkpoint where 10 Afghan soldiers were killed, underlines the continuing importance of our work to strengthen the capacity of the Afghan security authorities," argued Burt.

"We will continue to work closely with the Afghans to develop a more secure and prosperous state where the Afghan people can live free from fear," he added.