msnbc.com news services
updated 6/10/2010 1:41:04 PM ET 2010-06-10T17:41:04

Suspected Taliban militants publicly hanged a 7-year-old boy for spying in the militant stronghold of Helmand province, an Afghan official told the Associated Press.

The child was placed on trial by the Islamic extremist group and later found guilty of working for Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government, the local official said.

Karzai on Thursday condemned the alleged act, calling it a "crime against humanity".

"A 7-year-old boy cannot be a spy," said Karzai in published reports. "A 7-year-old boy cannot be anything but a seven-year-old boy, and therefore hanging or shooting to kill a seven-year-old boy ... is a crime against humanity."

New British Prime Minister David Cameron — making his first visit to Afghanistan since being elected last month — joined Karzai in condemning recent attacks, including the hanging.

“If this is true, it is an absolutely horrific crime,” Cameron said during a news conference in Kabul. “If true, I think it says more about the Taliban than any book, than any article, than any speech could ever say.”

Around the time of the child's reported execution, insurgents also dragged a Kandahar provincial council member, Amir Mohammad Noorzai, from his house and fatally shot him, said local government spokesman Zalmai Ayoubi.

In the past, militants have carried out similar killings of those accused of spying, said Dawoud Ahmadi, the provincial governor’s spokesman.

Three years ago, a 70-year-old woman and a child in the Musa Qala district of the province were executed following similar allegations.

There has been spike in bloodshed in recent weeks for foreign troops in Afghanistan, and the latest NATO death — an American killed Thursday by a roadside bomb, the U.S. military said — was the 30th this month for the alliance, and the 20th for the United States, according to a count by The Associated Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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