SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Taliban insurgents have beheaded seven Afghan civilians accused of spying for foreign and Afghan government forces in the past 10 days, a senior Afghan intelligence official said on Saturday.
Taliban militants have increasingly resorted to executing those they accuse of spying for NATO and U.S.-led forces in the last two years alongside more suicide and roadside bombs, tactics copied from Iraq that officials say are aimed at instilling fear.
"In the last 10 days the Taliban beheaded seven Afghan civilians without any proof," said the intelligence official who declined to be named.
He said the killings had taken place across the country, but mostly around Kandahar, Ghazni and other areas of the south.
"The Taliban are putting pressure on civilians to gain support," he told Reuters. "When these people are caught they are tortured first and then beheaded."
He said Taliban insurgents became suspicious of everyone whenever U.S. or NATO-led forces launched air strikes, believing they must have been guided from someone on the ground.
A Taliban spokesman said those executed had been captured along with proof, such as laser equipment used for guiding air strikes, that showed they were working for foreign troops.
"We have captured many spies providing information about the Taliban to foreign troops. When we catch any spy, we behead him," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told Reuters by satellite telephone from an undisclosed location.
Some 6,000 people have been killed in Afghanistan, around 1,500 of them civilians, in the last 18 months, the worst period of violence in the country since U.S.-led forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001.
Click to view image: '71209-images.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|