Germany said Friday that four local employees of its government-linked operator GIZ had been detained by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"I can confirm that the local employees of GIZ are in custody although we have not received any official information on why they are detained," a spokeswoman for Germany's ministry of economic cooperation and development said.

"We are taking this situation very seriously and are working through all channels available to us to ensure that our colleagues are released," she added.

Germany closed its embassy in Afghanistan after the Taliban swept back to power in 2021.

A foreign ministry spokesman said the channels Berlin was using include the European Union's representation as well as a liaison office in Doha.

He said no further information about the four could be disclosed "in the interests of their safety."

Since their return to power, Taliban authorities have imposed a strict interpretation of Islam, with women bearing the brunt of laws the United Nations has labelled "gender apartheid".