Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has condemned the mass beheadings of 17 Afghan civilians in southern Helmand Province.
In a written statement, Karzai called the killings an "unforgivable" crime in complete defiance of Islamic teachings.
The statement said resorting to such acts "clearly demonstrates that the enemy is desperate and in disarray."
U.S. officials have also condemned the beheadings, with the U.S. Embassy in Kabul calling them a "shameful act," and U.S. General John Allen, the commander of international forces in Afghanistan, describing the killers as "cowards."
Taliban militants are suspected of carrying out the massacre, whose victims included two women.
Some reports said the victims had staged a music and dance party before the slayings.
Other reports said they were suspected of working against the Taliban.