LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Afghan security forces in the southern province of Helmand have captured a German national during a raid on a suspected Taliban bomb-making compound, a local official said on Wednesday.
If confirmed, it would be a rare example of a European national fighting on the side of the insurgents in Afghanistan, which has not had the same influx of Western foreign fighters seen in Syria or Iraq.
Omar Zwak, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said the man, who was carrying documents identifying him as a German citizen, was taken along with two other suspected insurgents on Monday night in a compound in Gereshk district, north of the provincial capital Lashkar Gah.
The man was being questioned but initial details suggested that he was not a prisoner of the insurgents and had been taking part in making roadside bombs, Zwak said.
There was no immediate comment from the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin.
The Taliban, fighting to drive foreign forces out of Afghanistan and reimpose their vision of strict Islamic law, have not been associated with foreign fighters from Europe in the way that the Islamic State movement in Syria and Iraq has.
While fighters from neighboring countries including Pakistan and Uzbekistan have been present in Afghanistan, U.S. commanders say no significant numbers of militants from other regions such as Europe have been identified.
General John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said no more than a “smattering” of other foreigners had been seen with the local affiliate of Islamic State.
“A very small number. This is no comparison to what we saw in Iraq and Syria,” he told reporters on Saturday.
Reporting by Mohammad Stanekzai; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Alison Williams