Police in the northern Afghanistan province of Kunduz are searching for up to 15 Chechen women, who have been assisting Taliban insurgents in the region, officials said Monday, confirming for the first time the presence of foreign female militants, DPA reported.
Information regarding the presence of foreign female militants emerged last week after Afghan forces recaptured Dashti Archi district, the Taliban's last redoubt in the province, provincial police chief Abdul Rahman Sayedkhili said.
"Some of these women are working as nurses to treat injured Taliban fighters, while others are experts in making roadside bombs and suicide vests," he said.
Former Taliban fighters have confirmed the presence of female militants, Sayedkhili said.
Around 300 Taliban have surrendered in the province in the past two months after Afghan forces backed by German and US troops began a massive operation.
Prior to the offensive, Kunduz was the main hub for the Taliban insurgency in the otherwise relatively peaceful northern region.
Mullah Jamalluddin, one of the former Taliban commanders, confirmed the presence of Chechen women in an interview with Kunduz's government-run television.
The former militant leader, who commanded around 30 fighters and worked closely with foreign militants, said that some of the Chechen women had married Afghan Taliban fighters.
The militants have carried out dozens of roadside bombings and suicide attacks in Kunduz in recent months.
Provincial authorities have repeatedly expressed concerns regarding the presence of fighters of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and al-Qaeda, but for the first time confirmed the presence of female militants.
"We have information that these women are here, but we don't know their exact whereabouts," Sheikh Sadruddin, district governor of Dashti Archi, said. "Police forces are searching the area for them and their Taliban partners."
Meanwhile, police have also rescued two Afghan men who were accused of spying for Afghan and NATO forces in Dashti Archi district, Sayedkhili said. The men had been sentenced to death by the militants.
The militants publicly executed a man and a woman after a Taliban court accused them of adultery in August. The couple was stoned to death by hundreds of people in Mullah Quli village of Dashti Archi.
The government recently launched an investigation after footage of the execution emerged.