Cyclists Killed in Tajikistan Attack Identified
Four cyclists who were killed in Tajikistan in an attack claimed by the ISIS terrorist group have been named by authorities.
Among those killed in the July 29 attack was a couple from Washington D.C. who had quit their jobs to pursue their lifelong dream of cycling around the world.
Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan kept a blog, Simply Cycling, that recorded their travels. They had cycled through South Africa and Europe before flying to Asia.
In an April entry about Morocco, Austin wrote, “Badness exists, sure, but even that’s quite rare. By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind. No greater revelation has come from our journey than this.”
Austin was featured in the Washington Post in 2015 in an article about “tiny homes” that he said gave him the freedom to travel.
He wrote in his blog that the pair decided to travel “because life is short and the world is big and we want to make the most out of our youth and good health before they’re gone.”
His girlfriend’s parents asked for time to cope with their loss.
“We are focused at this difficult time on the joy that Lauren brought to us, to her sisters, and to everyone she encountered,” Geoghegan’s parents said in a statement, quoted by CBS.
“The yearlong bicycle adventure Lauren and her partner, Jay Austin, were enjoying was typical of her enthusiastic embrace of life’s opportunities, her openness to new people and places, and her quest for a better understanding of the world.”
Also killed in the attack was Rene Wokke, 56 from the Netherlands. His girlfriend, Kim Postma, 58, survived with injuries, Radio Free Europe reported.
Swiss cyclist Markus Hummel, 62, died, and his partner, Marie-Claire Diemand, 59, is reported to be hospitalized in Dushanbe, the capital of the country.
The French cyclist, Guillaume Kazabat was reportedly not harmed.
The attackers rammed a car into the cyclists in Danghara, then stabbed them with knives before fleeing, according to a statement by the U.S. embassy. The ISIS terrorist group claimed responsibility for killing the tourists.
The Tajik Interior Ministry said on July 31 that four suspected attackers were killed in the incident, posting graphic photos of their dead bodies on the ministry’s website. Four other suspects were detained.
Tajikistan, a landlocked country, is bordered by Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, and Uzbekistan. It has been ruled for decades by President Emomali Rahmon, who was a Communist Party official when the country was part of the Soviet Union.
The U.S. Department of State has described Tajikistan as “an authoritarian state, and political life is dominated by President Emomali Rahmon and his supporters,” adding that the government has a poor human rights record.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report