Local security commanders in Kunduz province told TOLOnews on Monday that a new arm of Taliban has emerged in the past few months in the province and that the fighters carry out night attacks on security forces.
According to security officials, the new Taliban fighting unit is known as Red Division and is based along the bordering area between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
Officials also said the group is well equipped.
In recent months Taliban attacks have increased in these border areas, said officials adding that the Taliban’s Red Division is behind these attacks.
The officials said some foreign fighters are also part of the Red Division.
“Red Division (fighters are) being trained and funded by some foreign groups and this is questionable. Some offensives that they have carried out have been above the Taliban’s (usual) capacity in terms of tactics, movements and functioning ,” Hamid Saifi, a commander of the national army’s operation in Dasht-e-Archi said.
“They mostly belong to terrorist groups and the fighters belong to Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Tajik nationals, Quetta Council and intelligence agencies,” Abdul Hamid Hamidi, the Kunduz police chief said.
Army commanders also said some circles in neighboring countries recruit and train these Taliban, but a Taliban spokesman said they recruit and train their fighters inside Afghanistan.
They denied having links to any foreign countries and said they get their weapons in raids on security posts.
“Due to Taliban's ties to Russians, they want to have control over Dasht-e-Archi and keep a safe and continued relationship with Russia across the Amu River,” Hamid Saifi said.
According to security officials, the Red Division is based in a forested area along the Tajikistan border – which has roads connecting the area to Khawja Ghar district in Takhar and Dasht-e-Archi district in Kunduz.
Security officials said when Taliban come under pressure in Khawja Ghar and Dasht-e-Archi by security forces, they flee to the forested area.
Russian soldiers are reportedly stationed across the border in Tajikistan in order to apparently respond to any Daesh threat, Kunduz officials said.
But Afghan forces criticized Russian soldiers for not taking action against the Taliban they say are often holed up in no-man’s land between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
Islamuddin, a resident of Khawja Ghar district, said they have seen Russian soldiers patrolling along the Tajikistan border area, close to the Taliban’s Red Division base.
“There is the Taliban and war and we have witnessed fights for several years. Two years ago I was wounded in this war and am still suffering,” said Islamuddin.
The Russian embassy in Kabul meanwhile issued a statement on Monday and rejected the reports. They said Moscow has no ties with the Taliban.
The top US commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson also recently raised concerns over Taliban’s access to Russian weapons and the smuggling of weapons to Afghanistan from neighboring countries.