Swiss cyclist killed in Tajikistan terror attack

Tajikistan

Tajik officials say a driver hit the cyclists with a vehicle before at least one assailant attacked them with firearms and a knife. The Swiss Foreign Ministry said a third victim of the accident was a Swiss national.

Interior Ministry officials said the suspected perpetrators of the incident, which took place at 3:30 p.m., fled the scene, but that one of them was later killed in a confrontation with police.

The U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe confirmed the deaths of American citizens.

Another was being treated in hospital, while the French citizen survived without injury and was being questioned by the police, he added.

One suspect was arrested, according to the statement, and "during the resistance" two other suspects were "eliminated".

"When I asked what had happened, the first thing someone said was that they had been hit by a auto and that the people who had come out had started stabbing them with knives", cyclist Nicolas Moerman said.

The dead were on a cycling tour in the impoverished ex-Soviet nation, in a group with three other tourists from Switzerland, the Netherlands and France.

The Dutch foreign ministry told AFP on Monday that one of the dead tourists was a 56-year-old man who was cycling the route with his 58-year-old partner, without providing names. The stunning mountainous scenery has traditionally been a strong draw for foreign hikers, cyclists and mountaineers. On Monday, a spokesman from the embassy told Asia-Plus, a local media source, "Although the investigation into the incident is still going on, there is proof that it was a deliberate attack". The U.S. Department of State has described Tajikistan as "an authoritarian state, and political life is dominated by President Emomali Rahmon and his supporters", saying that the government has a poor human rights record.

Tajikistan had declared 2018 "a year of tourism" and authorities have been cautious about labeling the incident as terrorism.

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