KABUL: The Taleban murdered a 7-year-old boy in an act of retribution after accusing him of spying for Nato, officials said.

The Times reported the child was hanged from a tree in Heratiyan, southern Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the Helmand Governor said the killing occurred after the boy's grandfather spoke out against militants in his village, the newspaper said.

Daoud Ahmadi told the Times: "His grandfather is a tribal elder in the village and the village is under the control of the Taleban. His grandfather said some good things about the Government and he formed a small group of people to stand against the Taleban. That's why the Taleban killed his grandson in revenge."

The attack occurred near where a US helicopter was shot down this week, killing four.

The Times quoted an elder in Heratiyan, Shamsuddin Khan Faryie, as saying the boy was seized as he played in his garden.

"Some people said that it was Taleban, some said they were private enemies. Some Taleban I spoke to said that he was a spy," he said.

Taleban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmaid said: "The Taleban's enemies are the Afghan Government and the foreign forces. We never kill children. Everyone knows a 7-year-old can't be a spy."

Yesterday British Prime Minister David Cameron offered extra funds to combat roadside bombs taking a relentless toll on British lives during his first visit to Afghanistan as leader but ruled out sending extra troops to help turn the tide of the war against the Taleban.

Cameron's declaration that sending reinforcements was "not remotely" on the agenda and that the question should be "Can we go further, can we go faster?" on the date of withdrawing troops showed a desire to disengage from the conflict as soon as possible.

In the meantime, however, he stated that a further £67 million ($145 million) will be spent on countering IEDs (improvised explosive devices) on top of £150 million pledged by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown during his own visit to Afghanistan last year.

Cameron's planned visit to a frontline base in Helmand was cancelled after mobile phone calls referring to a possible rocket attack on a helicopter were intercepted.

- Independent, AP