Isis prison riot in Tajikistan leaves 32 dead

Isis prison riot in Tajikistan leaves 32 dead

A riot at a prison in Tajikistan has left 32 people dead, including 24 militants from so-called Islamic State and three guards, according to the justice ministry. 

Five other inmates and the three guards were killed by Isis prisoners during the Sunday riot in Vakhdat, 17km east of the capital Dushanbe. It holds about 1,500 convicts. 

Isis has now recently lost virtually all its territory in Iraq and Syria.

Among the organisers of Sunday’s riot was reportedly Bekhruz Gulmurod, the son of a Tajik special forces colonel who defected to Isis in 2015. His father, Gulmurod Khalimov, who was purportedly killed while fighting in Syria in 2017. He took part in Islamic State propaganda films in which he threatened to murder “American pigs”. 

The Tajik authorities said his 20-year-old son was among the Isis militants killed in the prison uprising.

They said two leaders of the outlawed Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan and an anti-government cleric were among the prisoners killed by the militants. 

Jailed party chief Sattor Karimov was killed. The party’s leadership is all in exile or in prison.

The police said the prisoners first stabbed to death three guards and then five other inmates were killed ” to intimidate” the other convicts. 

The militants then took other prisoners hostage and attacked the jail’s medical centre. 

The ministry said 24 members of the group were killed and 25 others arrested, the hostages were freed and calm restored to the prison. 

It is unclear whether any foreign-born Islamic State militants were involved.

In November last year, another prison riot claimed by Isis left 26 people dead in Khujand, a northeastern city of 700,000, in an attempt to enable a large-scale escape. 

Two prison guards were among the dead. 

Isis also claimed responsibility for the murder of four western cyclists who were traversing the Muslim-majority country last July.

Tajikistan, which has a population of 8.5 million and borders Afghanistan, has suffered during repeated violence conflict since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Tens of thousands were killed during a five-year civil war in the 1990s when rebel groups, including Islamists, attacked government forces. 

The authorities say more than 1,000 Tajiks joined Islamic State in recent years.



Impoverished Tajikistan. Picture credit: Flickr

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