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Tajik Government Blames Banned Islamist Party For Deadly Attack On Foreign Cyclists

The Tajik government has accused the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) of being behind an attack that killed four foreign cyclists on July 29.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement on July 31 that the attackers were led by an "active member" of the IRPT, citing what it said was the confession of a detained suspect.

The ministry also said that the group’s leader had been trained in Iran and that the attackers planned to flee to Afghanistan after the incident.

Tajik authorities offered no immediate proof of the claims.

On July 30, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the killings. The extremist group’s Amaq news agency published the claim without providing details or evidence to back up its statement.

Two Americans, one Dutchman, and a Swiss citizen were killed by at least one assailant with a gun and knife after being plowed down by a vehicle in the Danghara district of the Khatlon region, about 150 kilometers south of the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.

Three other foreigners — including a French citizen — were also injured in the attack.

Tajikistan banned the IRPT in 2015 as a “terrorist organization” and imprisoned dozens of its officials and members. Until then, the IRPT had been the only legal Islamist party in Central Asia.

The IRPT was first banned in 1993 but was legalized again in 1998 after the end of the Tajik civil war in the 1990s.

With reporting by Reuters

Source: Radio Free Europe

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