ISIS Claims Responsibility for Tajikistan Attack That Killed 2 American Cyclists, 2 Others

July 31, 2018 Updated: July 31, 2018

The ISIS terrorist group claimed responsibility for the killing of two American cyclists and two other foreign tourists in Tajikistan.

ISIS released a video that alleges to show a group of men pledging allegiance to its cause, Radio Free Europe reported on July 30. Earlier, officials in Tajikistan said that a banned Islamic party was behind the attack.

Two Americans, a Swiss, and a Dutch citizen were hit by a car in Danghara. The attackers then allegedly stabbed the victims, according to the report. Two other foreigners were injured.

The attackers “were soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the attack in response to calls to target the citizens of the coalition countries,” a statement by ISIS said, RFE reported.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Interior Ministry blamed the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan was behind the attack, according to Qatar-backed Al-Jazeera. The party’s exiled leaders said they had no link to the attack, saying that Tajik authorities are using the incident for political purposes.

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.

“We completely deny the illogical allegation by the interior ministry and condemn this terrorist act,” IRPT leader-in-exile Muhiddin Kabiri told Reuters. “This [statement] draws the attention away from the real criminals.”

“According to multiple sources, on July 29 Tajik citizens hit seven foreign cyclists with their vehicle, exited the car, and stabbed the cyclists with knives. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has detained one suspect and killed at least three other suspects. As of now, the U.S. Embassy has no evidence that indicates a heightened level of threat to U.S. citizens,” the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe said in a statement.

It added: “We encourage U.S. citizens to maintain awareness of their surroundings and take the precautions recommended below. We condemn the senseless attack, offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims, and wish the injured a speedy recovery. Because of privacy concerns, we are unable to share further details about the U.S. citizens. The Embassy commends Tajik authorities on their professional and quick response to the incident, and we will continue to work closely with them on the ongoing investigation.”

The incident took place in Danghara, 93 miles south of Dushanbe, the capital of the country.

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.