By Mirwais Harooni

KABUL, Aug 31 (Reuters) - An adolescent boy and a young girl have been beheaded in two separate incidents in Afghanistan, local officials and police said on Friday, in the latest brazen attacks that have raised fresh questions about a splintering Taliban.

A 12-year-old boy was kidnapped and killed in southern Kandahar province on Wednesday, his severed head placed near his body to send a warning to police, said provincial governor spokesman Jawid Faisal.

The brother of the boy, neither of whom were named by officials, was a member of the Afghan Local Police (ALP), a U.S.-trained militia charged with making Afghans in Taliban strongholds, like Kandahar, feel more secure, Faisal said.

"It's a Taliban warning to the ALP and to others who support the government," Faisal said of the killing, which happened in Kandahar's Panjwai district.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf denied the group was involved.

Separately, a 6-year-old girl was beheaded in eastern Kapisa province on Thursday, said provincial police chief Abdul Hamed.

"We are not sure if she was beheaded by her family or the Taliban, but we know the Taliban control the area," Hamed said of the killing in Jalukhil village. He added that he could not send investigators to the area out of fears for their safety.

The murders follow the shooting or beheading of 17 young revellers attending a party in southern Helmand province this week, which officials said was the work of the Taliban, a charge the group also denied.

That massacre raised fresh concerns about Taliban leaders' grip on their scattered fighters, amid on-again, off-again peace moves by the group with the Afghan government.

It also suggested that there are grassroots insurgent fighters who are not in a mood for compromise.

"What we're seeing could be a new tactic by the Taliban to behead civilians to intimidate the population," said Faisal.

In Kandahar's Zhari district, officials also said on Friday that a 16-year-old boy accused by the Taliban of spying for the government was beheaded and skinned in late July.

Such incidents highlight the difficulty that Taliban leaders have in enforcing discipline across an estimated 20,000 fighters spread from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

The central Taliban leadership is trying to improve the group's image in case it wants to push forward tentative reconciliation steps and perhaps even enter mainstream politics. But some militant units are hard to control, roaming the countryside and attacking those deemed immoral.

NATO will withdraw most of its combat troops by the end of 2014, leaving Afghan forces in the lead security role. (Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman)

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Aug. 16, 2012

    A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter crashes in the southern Kandahar province, killing seven American troops and four Afghans on board; the Taliban claim they shot the aircraft down. <br><em>Caption: A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter piloted by a crew from the Idaho Army National Guard Citizen Soldiers of Company A, 1-168 General Support Aviation Battalion lifts off from Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho on Saturday, April 7, 2012, as part of a one-year deployment to Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Idaho Press-Tribune, Charlie Litchfield)</em>

  • April 19, 2012

    A U.S. Army helicopter crashes in bad weather during a night flight in Afghanistan. All four American crew members are killed. <br><em>Caption: This undated photo provided April 24, 2012, shows U.S. Army Sgt. Dean Shaffer, 23, of Pekin, Ill. Shaffer who was killed along with three other soldiers in the crash. (AP Photo/Department of Defense)</em>

  • March 16, 2012

    A Turkish military helicopter crashes into a house near the Afghan capital, killing 12 Turkish soldiers on board and four Afghan civilians on the ground. <br><em>Caption: An Afghan policemen looks at the wreckage from a crashed Turkish helicopter on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, March 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)</em>

  • Aug. 6, 2011

    Insurgents shoot down a Chinook helicopter in the eastern Wardak province, killing 30 American troops, mostly elite Navy SEALs, along with seven Afghan commandos and a translator. <br><em>Caption: A military honor guard carries the remains of Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, Calif., who died Aug. 6, 2011, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed in the Wardak province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)</em>

  • Sept. 21, 2010

    A U.S. Army Black Hawk crashes in southern Zabul province, killing nine troops on board, including four Navy SEALs. <br><em>Caption: In this Aug. 17, 2010, file photo, Staff Sgt. Charlie Collier, of Texas, of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division, Task Force Strike, coordinates inbound Black Hawk helicopters on the landing zone at Forward Operating Base Wilson, Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)</em>

  • May 30, 2007

    A U.S. Chinook crashes while under fire in southern Helmand, killing one British, one Canadian and five American troops. <br><em>Soldiers part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) walk towards a U.S. Chinook helicopter to be transported back to their base after attending at the putting foundation ceremony of a hospital in Shindand, Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)</em>

  • Feb. 18, 2007

    A U.S. Chinook carrying 22 U.S. soldiers crashes in southern Zabul province, killing eight and injuring 14. <br><em>Caption: A Chinook helicopter leaves after dropping supplies for U.S. Marines at Forward Operating Base Edi in the Helmand province of southern Afghanistan, Thursday, June 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus, File)</em>

  • Sept. 2, 2006

    A British Nimrod aircraft crashes near Kandahar in the south, killing 14 crew members. <br><em>Caption: The coffin containing Flt Sgt Adrian Davies of the Royal Air Force is carried from a C17 plane at RAF Kinloss on September 12, 2006, in Kinloss, nr. Inverness, Scotland. He was one of 14 British servicemen killed when the Nimrod aircraft they were traveling in crashed. (Photo by Andrew Milligan-Pool/Getty Images)</em>

  • May 5, 2006

    A U.S. Chinook helicopter crashes while attempting a night landing on a small mountaintop in eastern Kunar province, killing 10 U.S. soldiers on May 5, 2006. <br><em>Caption: A Chinook transport helicopter arrives with a container of supplies to the Korengal Outpost on October 27, 2008, in the Korengal Vallay, Afghanistan. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)</em>

  • Aug. 16, 2005

    A Spanish helicopter crashes near the western city of Herat, killing 17 Spanish soldiers. <br><em>Caption: A television still shown at the congressional committee looking into the helicopter crash which led to the deaths of 17 Spanish soldiers in Afghanistan at Parliament in Madrid, 24 August 2005. (AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • June 28, 2005

    A U.S. helicopter is shot down in eastern Kunar province during a rescue operation, killing 16 special operations troops. <br><em>Caption: An Afghan worker takes refuge as a U.S. Army Chinook transport helicopter arrives with supplies to the Korengal Outpost to resupply soldiers in the remote area on October 27, 2008 in the Korengal Vally, Afghanistan. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)</em>

  • April 6, 2005

    A U.S. Chinook helicopter crashes in a sandstorm near eastern Ghazni, killing 15 American troops and three civilian contractors. <br><em>Caption: Two US soldiers walk nearby the wreckage of a US CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Ghazni province some 100 kms (60miles) south east of Kabul, 07 April 2005. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • Dec. 21, 2002

    A German army helicopter crashes in Kabul, killing seven German soldiers. <br><em>Caption: A German Bundeswehr soldier climbs into a CH53 helicopter for maintenance at the Bundeswehr Camp Marmal, the German troops' base in Mazar-i-Sharif on March 22, 2012. (JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • March 4, 2002

    A U.S. Chinook helicopter is shot down in eastern Afghanistan, killing seven American troops. <br><em>Caption: In this Sept. 16, 2009, file photo a U.S. Special Forces soldier takes cover as two Chinook Ch-47 helicopters come in for a landing with supplies in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)</em>