Swiss cyclist killed in Tajikistan terror attack

Tajikistan's mountainous terrain is a draw for cyclists. Keystone

A Swiss man, part of a cycling group, was one of four people killed when a car ploughed into them in Tajikistan at the weekend, the Swiss foreign affairs ministry has confirmed. A Swiss woman was injured by assailants armed with knives and guns.

This content was published on July 30, 2018

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the group's AMAQ news agency said on Monday.

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 the group said.

However, the group did not provide further detail or evidence for its claim, and on Tuesday the Tajik interior ministry rather attributed the attack to another group, the "Islamic Renaissance" party.

They based this on the confession of one of the arrested attackers, who said that the operation was carried out on the orders of one Nossirkhoudjy Abaïdov, a member of the party that was outlawed following a crackdown by secular state authorities that began in 2015.

The attack in the mainly Islamic central Asian country took place on Sunday in the Danghara district, 90 kilometres southeast of Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe, on the Pamir Highway, which is popular with cyclists. Police initially thought the incident was a road traffic accident but soon realised the seven-strong cycling party had been the victim of a violent crime.

Four people were killed and three wounded. The deceased are from Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United States. Three others, from Switzerland, the Netherlands and France, were injured but are in a stable condition.

The Swiss authorities say they are in contact with the injured Swiss woman, her relatives and the local authorities.

"If it is established that this was a terrorist attack, it will be noted in future travel advice for Tajikistan," the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement.

Police added that one suspect was arrested on Sunday and another two were killed while resisting arrest. Three other suspects are still at large.

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