KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Taliban militants recently kidnapped and killed between 30 and 40 bus passengers in southern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Sunday.
Afghan officials identified the victims as civilians, but a Taliban spokesman said the group's fighters arrested and killed 27 Afghan soldiers.
The incident happened on Thursday in the Maiwand district of southern Kandahar Province, a dangerous Taliban-controlled area.
Afghan officials on Sunday retrieved six of the victims' bodies, which were beheaded, according to provincial police chief Matiullah Khan Qaneh.
Qaneh said the Taliban militants seized around 50 passengers, releasing 10 of them and taking the rest to the Band Timor area of the district.
"According to our information from the area, Taliban killed the remaining 40 passengers," he said.
Afghan Gen. Zahir Azimi said 31 civilian passengers were killed.
But Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousif Ahmadi said Taliban forces arrested 27 Afghan soldiers who had been traveling in three passenger buses, and killed them.
"They were all army soldiers from Laghman province and they were going to Helmand province to support the governor," Ahmadi told CNN by phone from an undisclosed location.
The Afghan general said no soldiers were killed in the attack, noting that "army soldiers are not allowed to travel by road, they always fly."