Last month's massive bombings in the capital, Kabul, have underscored the difficulties the Afghanistan government has been having recently in containing a resurgent Taliban, backed by a growing Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) presence.
The activities of the latter, with whom the Taliban currently seem to have a self-serving truce, are particularly worrisome because as ISIL suffers military reverses in Syria and Iraq, it is looking to establish safer havens elsewhere and Afghanistanseems to fit the bill.
Some of the more remote parts of the country, such as its most northerly provinces, have been attracting especial attention, not least because from there ISIL (sometimes known by its Arabic acronym, Daesh) are believed to want to expand their influence into Central Asia and Russia.
It's understandable, then, that the Afghanistan authorities would welcome any initiative by the general population in those areas to help respond to the threat, such as joining local militias and providing help and support to the local security forces.
But in such a conservative country few would have expected that the most enthusiastic new recruits would be women.
Yet that is exactly what seems to be happening in Jowzjan Province, which sits on the border between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, and is close to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, where several hundred local women have decided to take up arms against the fighters.