Tajikistan to form tourist police after IS-claimed bicyclist slayings


DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan Wednesday (August 1) pledged to create a "tourist police" force to protect visitors after four bicyclists were killed in an attack claimed by "Islamic State" (IS).

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon ordered the creation of the force tasked with "protection of public order and security [and] escort of tourists" as well as the "prevention of crime," state media reported.

The move comes after an armed gang attacked seven foreign bicyclists Sunday (July 29) in Danghara District, Khatlon Province, killing two Americans, one Swiss national and one Dutch national. Two others were injured and one was unharmed.

IS claimed responsibility by airing a video in which five men resembling the suspected killers pledged allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Police have killed four men suspected of appearing in the video and have a fifth suspect linked to the video in custody. So far they have made five arrests.

Tajik authorities have declared 2018 to be a "year of tourism" and claim massive increases in visitor numbers.

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