The Taliban have claimed responsibility for killing ten people whom the group described as "Christian missionaries", one of whom is believed to be a British woman.

The ten people are believed to have been working for the Christian charity International Assistance Mission which has been providing medical aid in Afghanistan since 1966. Six of the dead are reported to be Americans, one British, one German and two Afghan interpreters.

The bodies were found in the province of Badakhshan.

While police say it's possible the victims were robbed and killed, as all their possessions had been taken, the Taliban were quick to take responsibility, saying the group had Bibles on them and that they had been "spying for the Americans".

Speaking to AFP, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, said, "Yesterday at around 0800, one of our patrols confronted a group of foreigners. They were Christian missionaries and we killed them all."

IAM says that the team were not missionaries and added that while the bodies had not yet been identified, it had informed the families of those believed to have been killed.

In a statement IAM said, "We have been informed that 10 people, both foreign and Afghan, were murdered in Badakhshan. It is likely that they are members of the International Assistance Mission (IAM) eye camp team. The team had been in Nuristan at the invitation of communities there. After having completed their medical work the team was returning to Kabul.

"At this stage we do not have many details but our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who are presumed killed. If these reports are confirmed we object to this senseless killing of people who have done nothing but serve the poor. Some of the foreigners have worked alongside the Afghan people for decades.

"This tragedy negatively impacts our ability to continue serving the Afghan people as IAM has been doing since 1966. We hope it will not stop our work that benefits over a quarter of a million Afghans each year."

A third Afghan man working with the group was reported to have survived. The police chief of Badakhshan, General Agha Noor Kemtuz, told AP said of the third man, "He told me he was shouting, reciting the holy Koran and saying: 'I am a Muslim. Don't kill me'."