One Swiss cyclist killed and one hospitalized in Tajikistan attack

Four cyclists were killed and three wounded in Tajikistan in a vicious attack on Sunday July 29th. The Tajik government attributed responsibility to the outlawed Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, while Islamic State also claimed responsibility.

One Swiss cyclist killed and one hospitalized in Tajikistan attack
Tajik Minister of the Interior Ramazon Hamro Rahimzoda addressing a press conference in Dushanbe on July 30, 2018. Photo: Shodmon Kholov/AFPTV/AFP.

The seven cyclists were apparently run over by a man in a car who then fled. A group of men armed with firearms and knives then killed four cyclists and wounded three others.

A Swiss man was killed in the attack and a Swiss woman was hospitalized with severe knife wounds, according to a report in Swiss news portal 20 Minutes. 

A 56-year-old Dutch citizen and two US citizens were also killed in the attack. Nicolas Moerman, a cyclist who arrived at the scene soon after, told a Flemish news station: “I asked what had happened and the first thing someone said was that they had been hit by a car and that the people who had come out had started to stab them with knives.”

The attack occurred in the region of Danghara, approximately 150 kilometres southeast of the Central Asian nation's capital Dushanbe. 

The route, which runs not only through the desert but also at attitudes of more than 4,000 metres, is popular with intrepid cyclists. 

The Tajik government attributed the attack to the opposition Islamic extremist Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan. Islamic State (IS), however, has also claimed responsibility. 

The attack had originally been deemed an accident by the Tajik Ministry of the Interior, according to a statement published on July 29th.

A subsequent communiqué said the car involved had been recovered in the village of Torbulok in the Danghara District. Tajik police have apparently identified the culprits and detained them. Two resisted and were killed, according to that statement

Tajik news sources claimed five suspects, all trained in Iran, had been killed in subsequent operations. 

The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs is providing consular services to the Swiss survivor. 





Switzerland arrests suspected Isis sympathisers in numerous raids

Four suspected members or sympathisers of the Islamic State group have been detained in Germany and Switzerland in a cross-border operation, prosecutors from the two countries said Tuesday.

Switzerland arrests suspected Isis sympathisers in numerous raids

In Switzerland, three people were picked up in the cantons of Zurich, Sankt Gallen and Lucerne, national authorities said, adding that seven further searches were also carried out.

The suspects, whose identities were not released, are accused of “participation in or support for the outlawed organisation Islamic State”.

In Germany, a man was detained in the western town of Roemerberg, federal prosecutors said.

Identified only as Aleem N., he is “strongly suspected of preparing a serious violent attack threatening the security of the state and of belonging to a foreign terrorist organisation”.

He is believed to have attempted to travel from Germany via Turkey to Syria in September 2020.

“In Syria, the suspect wanted to join the foreign terrorist organisation Islamic State, attain military training and then take part in combat or terrorist attacks,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

However, Aleem N. was unable to reach Syria for reasons that were not immediately clear and returned to Germany.

“At the latest in April 2021 he joined Isis in Germany and carried out vast propaganda activities for the group,” prosecutors said.

His duties included “mainly translating official texts, videos and audio messages by Isis from Arabic into German and distributing them on various Telegram channels in German-speaking areas”.

“Isis considered such activities to be equivalent to taking part directly in violent jihad,” it added.

The suspect is also believed to have taken part in a telephone conversation with Isis leaders in late 2021 to “verify his reliability” before travelling to “IS zones of operation”.

However, “a further attempt” to reach Syria in January 2022 “failed again”.

Aleem N. was to appear on Tuesday before a federal judge who will decide whether to remand him in custody.

German intelligence services estimate that more than 1,150 people have travelled from Germany to Iraq and Syria since 2011 for Islamist reasons.

More than a third have since returned to Germany, while at least 270 have been killed in Iraq or Syria.

“A low three-digit-number” are currently detained in the two countries, according to the intelligence services’ 2021 report.