Is this the insurgents new strategy? Sadly it seems to be working. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/world/asia/attacks-on-soldiers-and-civilians-leave-dozens-dead-in-afghanistan.html?_r=1 [h=1]Differing Theories in Killing of 17 in Taliban Stronghold[/h][h=6]By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and TAIMOOR SHAH[/h]KABUL, Afghanistan When the killing ended in northeast Helmand Province on Sunday, the only thing Afghan officials knew for certain was that the beheaded bodies of 15 men and 2 women lay in the desert, in Taliban territory, after a startling spasm of brutality. The question now dogging them is why. Government officials scrambled for more than a day to explain the carnage. Hajji Naimatullah Khan, the governor of the Musa Qala district, initially reported that the Taliban had executed the 17 for attending a risqué party. But in a telephone interview he later revised his account, saying that witnesses believed the men had been identified as informers and dragged away from villages in his district. The two women, he added, had pleaded for the mens lives, but this angered the Taliban, who killed them, too. The Taliban learned that these are the people who had links with government, Hajji Khan said of the victims. They were detained in their homes and taken away. Musa Qala and the nearby district of Kajaki, where the bodies were reported found, are both longtime Taliban strongholds and scenes of heavy fighting with American and British troops over the years. The lasting Taliban presence has long marginalized government officials there, perhaps explaining the incoherent array of explanations for the beheadings. The Helmand governors office offered differing theories as well. It first released a statement suggesting that the two Taliban commanders had gotten into a fight over the two women that spiraled into a wider gun battle. Then the governors spokesman, Dawood Ahmadi, speculated that the victims might have been suspected of planning an anti-Taliban uprising. But that was only a very hopeful hypothesis, he admitted. Unusually, spokesmen for the Taliban, who are quick to text local journalists with news of their actions, were either silent or denied knowledge of the killings. If authoritative details were hard to come by, the attack drew many condemnations. President Hamid Karzai described the beheadings as a combination of mass murder, apostasy and hooliganism. The American Embassy in Kabul said the 17 victims had been shot and beheaded in a shameful act. And Gen. John R. Allen, commander of American and NATO troops here, called the killers cowards and predicted that the attack might help persuade villagers to rise up. A surge of so-called insider attacks against United States troops continued on Monday, when an Afghan National Army soldier gunned down two Americans after a dispute broke out in Laghman Province, a restive and rugged part of eastern Afghanistan that no longer has much American presence, Afghan officials said. A verbal argument erupted and fire was exchanged, said Noor Rahman, a Laghman police official. That brought the American death toll in such violence, also known as green-on-blue attacks, to 12 in the past three weeks, in a continuing crisis that is shaking trust between American military personnel and the Afghan forces they are training and working beside until the 2014 NATO military withdrawal. One-third of all American fatalities in August have now come at the hands of Afghan soldiers, policemen or other Afghans working close to American forces. Forty-two American and NATO soldiers have been slain by insider attacks in the first eight months of this year. Though Afghan officials identified the victims in Laghman as American soldiers, the American-led international military command would not confirm their nationalities. But a Western official provided an account of the attack: It began, he said, when a NATO convoy hit a roadside bomb. The blast did not injure anyone, but it damaged a vehicle, forcing the convoy to stop. Then a separate Afghan patrol crossed paths with the broken-down convoy, the official said, and that was when the shooting happened. The gunman was killed in a firefight. For a while on Monday it also appeared that a similar attack Afghan soldiers killing their colleagues had occurred in Helmand in Washir District, near Nimroz and Farah Provinces. There, Taliban attackers killed 10 Afghan National Army soldiers during an ambush at a checkpoint in an hourlong firefight that also left 4 soldiers wounded and 11 Taliban fighters dead. Initially, the Helmand governors office said some insurgents had infiltrated the Afghan ranks and plotted to help the attack. But the office later revised its account, saying five soldiers had fled during the firefight cowards, a spokesman suggested, but not infiltrators and that they were being investigated.