KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Suspected Taliban gunmen ambushed a border patrol in the desert near the frontier with Pakistan, killing and beheading 10 Afghan soldiers, a provincial governor said Sunday. Violence elsewhere left 15 rebels and soldiers dead.
The 25-member patrol was hit Saturday in southern Helmand province by attackers driving four four-wheel-drive pickups, said provincial Gov. Sher Mohammed Aghunzada.
“The Taliban cut the heads off all the soldiers who were killed,” he said. Aghunzada said the dead soldiers’ bodies had been recovered.
He said the assailants launched the assault after driving across the border from Pakistan and returned across the frontier. The border is unguarded in that remote area.
Twelve other Afghan soldiers were killed Sunday when a land mine blew up under their vehicle in Paktika province, also near the border with Pakistan, provincial deputy police chief Ghulam Nabi said.
He said it wasn’t clear if the mine was one of hundreds of thousands left over from a quarter century of fighting.
Also on Sunday, three suspected rebels were killed in southern Kandahar province after attacking a government convoy, frontier security chief Gen. Abdul Raziq Khan said.
The news of the decapitations comes a day after a purported Taliban spokesman, Mullah Latif Hakimi, claimed that the rebels had beheaded a U.S. Navy SEAL commando missing since June 28.