The internal news agency of the Islamic State (IS) issued a statement on Monday, July 30, claiming responsibility for a hit-and-run attack that left four cyclists dead and three others wounded in southern Tajikistan on Sunday, July 29. According to the bulletin, the assailants were "soldiers of the Islamic State" and the attack was in response to IS' calls to target "citizens of Coalition countries," which references a 2014 speech by former IS spokesman that asked for followers to conduct attacks against pedestrians in their home countries. The statement suggests that the attacks were inspired by IS propaganda and not that the Tajikistan attackers were directed or deployed by the terrorist organization. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
On July 29, a vehicle struck a group of cyclists twice near Danghara (Khatlon province) about 90 km (55 mi) southeast of the capital Dushanbe, before the assailants attacked survivors with knives and firearms. Four cyclists were killed, including two Americans and citizens from Switzerland and the Netherlands. Another three Western tourists were wounded and one in the group escaped harm. Security forces killed four suspected attackers and one other was apprehended.
This is the first attack inside Tajikistan claimed by IS, despite an estimated 1300 Tajiks who have joined the group. Terrorism in Central Asia remains rare, despite the high numbers of citizens who have traveled to become foreign fighters. Most political violence in Tajikistan is related to local and regional political and social grievances as opposed to transnational and ideological terrorism.
Individuals in Tajikistan are advised to avoid large public gatherings and report any suspicious objects or behavior. Generally speaking, travelers are advised to avoid the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), a restricted zone along the border with Afghanistan which requires a special government permit for entry.
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