IS claims responsibility for deadly Tajikistan attack

Associated Press

Moscow – The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a weekend attack on Western tourists in Tajikistan that left four people from the U.S. and Europe killed.

The group said in a statement late Monday that several of its soldiers attacked the “citizens of the Crusader coalition,” referring to an incident on Sunday when a car rammed into a group of foreign cyclists south of the Tajik capital Dushanbe. The driver and the passengers then got out and attacked the tourists with knives, leaving four dead and three injured.

The Islamic State group often refers to the U.S.-led coalition that is fighting it in Syria and Iraq as crusaders.

Authorities in the ex-Soviet Central Asian nation had called the incident an “attack” and said terrorism was a possible motive.

Two of the victims were American, one was Swiss, and another was from the Netherlands, foreign and Tajik officials said. The injured include a woman from Switzerland.

There were conflicting reports about how many suspects have been killed as police tried to detain them, and how many have been arrested.

The Islamic State group’s statement did not say how many militants took part in the attack.

There was no immediate reaction to the IS claim from Dushanbe on Tuesday.

But the Russian state news agency Interfax cited a statement from Tajikistan’s Interior Ministry blaming the attack on the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, a local party that was banned several years ago for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.