Photos of US soldiers dubbed the ‘Kill Team’ posing with dead Afghans have been published in Rolling Stone, leading to an apology from the US army.

The pictures reportedly show a rogue army unit, based in Afghanistan, murdering Afghan civilians for sport and include shocking images of the soldiers smiling as they lift the head of a dead teenager by the hair.

Last week Corporal Jeremy Morlock was jailed for 24 years after striking a plea bargain to testify against the alleged ‘Kill Team’ ringleader, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs.

See the full Rolling Stone report here (WARNING: GRAPHIC PICTURES)

On Monday, Rolling Stone published a full report of what allegedly happened when the men decided to go on a murderous spree, killing Afghan “savages”. The magazine published un-blurred versions of the graphic photos published last week by German magazine, Der Spiegel.

The Rolling Stone report, by Mark Boal, describes how 15-year-old farm worker Gul Mudin became the first in a series of trophy kills. After shooting the unarmed boy, soldiers posed beside his bloodied body before chopping off his finger.

According to the Rolling Stone report:

“No one seemed more pleased by the kill than Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, the platoon’s popular and hard-charging squad leader. “It was like another day at the office for him,” one soldier recalls. Gibbs started “messing around with the kid,” moving his arms and mouth and “acting like the kid was talking.” Then, using a pair of razor-sharp medic’s shears, he reportedly sliced off the dead boy’s pinky finger and gave it to Holmes, as a trophy for killing his first Afghan.”

Alongside the story, Rolling Stone published 17 photos including one of a severed head and another showing a pair of blown off legs. Rolling Stone said the photos were from a cache the army had kept secret because it feared another scandal like that of Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

The US army has been quick to distance itself from the actions of the ‘Kill Team’ soldiers.

“The photos published by Rolling Stone are disturbing and in striking contrast to the standards and values of the United States army,” a Pentagon statement said.

“The army apologises for the distress these latest photos cause.”

Five soldiers from the 5th Stryker Brigade, based south of Seattle, have been charged with murder.

Morlock is expected to be the star witness in the court-martial of alleged ringleader, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs. Morlock has admitted that the killings were part of a deliberate plan to murder Afghan civilians.