A new military training ground has been set up in Nowshera, Pakistan, where elite female commandos have been recruited to combat the Taliban. Defying tradition, especially in this ultra-conservative corner of northwest Pakistan, the fighters don black niqabs as they learn how to use automatic weapons including anti-tank and anti-aircraft launchers. During their six-month training at the academy, they rise at 5 a.m. and train until 11 p.m. — often in temperatures as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit, all while nearly fully covered. Commando trainee Gul Nisa thinks the groundbreaking military unit is all part of God’s plan. “The situation in our country is very bad, that’s why we should all play a role in improving it,” she said. The women in the program were chosen from local police forces and with 1,100 police killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone over that period, the local government decided to mirror moves taken in other provinces and draft in elite female commandos. More than 50,000 people have died in terror-related violence in Pakistan since 2002.
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