The Taliban have beheaded two boys for spying in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, officials say.
One of the boys, a 10-year-old, is reported to have regularly accepted food handouts from police in the Zhari district to feed his family.
Kandahar’s governor condemned the beheading as inhumane and un-Islamic. The Taliban denied killing him and condemned it as well.
Little is known about the other boy, who was 16 years old.
In 2012 the Taliban were accused of beheading a 12-year-old boy and a seven-year-old girl in south and east Afghanistan – the group denied responsibility in both those cases.
The 10-year-old boy was very poor and was known to take food going spare from the police to take home to his family, says the BBC’s Mahfouz Zubaide in Kabul.
His killing is said to have taken place on Sunday but news only emerged on Monday as the provincial government condemned it and asked the public to report suspicious behaviour and people.
Later on Monday Kandahar’s provincial government posted an update saying that a 16-year-old had also been beheaded by the Taliban.
Correspondents say that the Taliban are known to attack those they suspect of colluding with police and that the Taliban regularly deny such atrocities.
But Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi insisted to the BBC that the group had not beheaded any children in the area.
Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have been known to behead targets in the past, but have always denied attacking children in this way.