KABUL -- Afghan forces are beginning to take steps to deal with the buildup of foreign fighters in the country's northern provinces, officials tell Salaam Times.
Tajik Interior Minister Ramazon Rakhimzoda in Dushanbe in January confirmed the presence of about 10,000 to 15,000 militants from Tajikistan and from other Central Asian countries in Afghanistan, along the Tajik border.
Abdulwadood Peyman, a member of parliament from Kunduz, corroborated the estimate given by Rakhimzoda.
Speaking to Salaam Times, he expressed concern over the "growing" number of militants in the north.
The militants massing in northern Afghanistan represent a stew of nationalities and groups, two sources told Salaam Times.
In addition to the Taliban and the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), Jamaat Ansarullah (a Tajik group) and the IMU are active along the Afghan frontiers with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Afghan Ministry of Defence spokesman Mohammad Radmanesh told Salaam Times.
Militants from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Chechnya, Pakistan, the Mideast, East Asia and other places have infiltrated northern Afghanistan, Gen. (ret.) Atiqullah Amarkhil told Salaam Times, adding that he did not know the sizes of those militant contingents.
Afghan authorities do not know the intent of the Central Asian militants forming on the frontier with Tajikistan, but Tajik and Afghan troops reportedly are keeping a close eye on them.
Some of those foreign fighters live with their families in remote parts of Takhar Province, Khaled Mohammadi, a Takhar Province resident, told Salaam Times.
They fight security forces and the Afghan people on the pretext of "jihad", he said.
Afghan troops fighting in border provinces like Badakhshan, Takhar, Jawzjan and Kunduz have hit Uzbek and Tajik terrorist groups hard, Ministry of Defence spokesman Mohammad Radmanesh told Salaam Times.
If need be, the military will launch major offensives to crush them, he added.
Afghan troops have inflicted "severe casualties" on foreign fighters, Amarkhil the retired general told Salaam Times, calling for more such operations and for aid from international forces in crushing the threat.
Afghan troops January 20 in Sar-e-Pul Province captured two militants from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, provincial police chief Enayatullah Habibi told local media.
The two are accused of working with the Taliban. The troops who captured them killed four Taliban.
In a news conference, the pair confessed their guilt, saying that militants invited them to Afghanistan to wage "jihad".