KANDAHAR (AFP/Reuters) - Taliban insurgents beheaded 17 party-goers, 10 Afghan soldiers were killed and two Nato troops shot dead in a new insider attack on a bloody day across Afghanistan, officials said Monday.

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.

“I can confirm that this is the work of the Taliban,” the Helmand provincial governor’s spokesman Daud Ahmadi told AFP. “Two women and 15 men were beheaded. They were partying with music in an area under the control of the Taliban.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai also accused the Taliban of beheading 17 villagers including two women in gruesome attack recalling the dark days of the hardline group’s rule before their 2001 ouster.

He ordered a full investigation into the “mass killing”, which a local official said was punishment to revelers attending a party with music and mixed-sex dancing.

“This attack shows that there are irresponsible members among the Taliban,” Karzai said in a statement.

Nematullah Khan, the Musa Qala district chief, confirmed that the villagers had organised a party with music, and a local official said he suspected that the two women had been dancing.

Haji Musa Khan, a tribal elder in Musa Qala district, said the region had seen a surge in such killings in recent months.

“We had three people beheaded during the month of Ramazan. Another person, the son of a tribal elder, was beheaded recently,” he said.

Khan said the killings followed major military operations by Afghan and Nato troops in the area. Hours after the beheadings, Taliban insurgents overran an Afghan army post in the same province in a pre-dawn attack on Monday, killing 10 troops, authorities said.

Four soldiers were wounded and six others were missing following the attack in Helmand’s Washir district, senior regional police officer Colonel Mohammad Ismael Hotak told AFP.

Helmand spokesman Ahmadi confirmed the incident and said the attack was an “insider plot” in which some army soldiers helped the rebels attack the post.

Two Nato soldiers were killed Monday when an Afghan army soldier turned his weapon against them in a “green-on-blue” attack in eastern Laghman province, the US-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said.

“Isaf soldiers returned fire and killed the attacker,” Isaf said. The latest Nato deaths take the toll from insider attacks this month alone to 12 and to a total of 42 this year, making up around 13 per cent of all Nato deaths in 2012.

Taliban insurgents claim responsibility for many of the attacks, but Nato attributes most to cultural differences, stress and personal animosity between Afghan troops and their international allies. Isaf spokesman Brigadier General Gunter Katz told reporters Monday that the attacks would not lead to less cooperation with Afghan troops as Nato prepares to pull out from the war in 2014.

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.