Isil has claimed credit for a car and knife attack in Tajikistan that killed four American and European cyclists and released a video of the men it said were behind it.
The assailants rammed the cyclists with a car on Sunday in the Khatlon region, which borders Afghanistan, then attacked them with knives and an axe, according to the authorities.
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Two Americans, one Swiss and one Dutch citizen were killed, and two other cyclists were injured.
On Tuesday, the news agency of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) released a video of five men it said had executed the attack posing in front of an Isil flag.
In it, a man speaking mostly in Russian with Arabic subtitles, who appeared to be the same Hussein Abdusamadov identified by the Tajik interior ministry as the ringleader of the attack, pledged allegiance to Isil leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The news agency had previously said the attackers “were soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the attack in response to calls to target the citizens of the coalition countries”.
Abdusamadov, 33, had confessed to leading the group that ran down the cyclists, the Tajik interior ministry said on Tuesday in a statement that showed him in custody with a swollen eye and other bruises.
It included photographs of four dead suspects that closely resembled the other men in the video.
But the ministry claimed that the attack had been ordered by the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, which was outlawed in 2015 on accusations of plotting a coup, to “destabilise public and state security”.
It said Abdusamadov had joined the party and undergone “ideological and military training” in Iran, with which Tajikistan has tense relations.
The ministry named the dead cyclists as Austin Jay and Lauren Anne Munoz of the United States, Voke Ren Willem of the Netherlands and Hamel Markus of Switzerland.
Dutch citizen Kim Aeres and Swiss citizen Marie Claire Dimend were taken to the hospital in critical condition, while Frenchman Guillaume Jean Cazabat was not injured, it said.
A video from the scene obtained by RFERL on Monday appeared to show a car accelerating into a cyclist laying on the road.
Police killed another suspect after he struck a police colonel in the side of the head with an axe, according to the ministry. Three others were killed when they attacked officers with a knife, axe and sickle.
Photographs showed four bloody corpses laid out on the grass next to two backpacks and several knives. The ministry identified their names and ages, which ranged from 18 to 26.
Abdusamadov planned to flee to Afghanistan but was captured along with four others suspected of involvement, the ministry said.
After the Islamic Renaissance Party was banned in 2015, a former deputy defence minister led followers in gun attacks on police stations and an airport that left at least 17 people dead in the mountainous former Soviet republic.
The Isil statement claiming credit for Sunday’s carnage appeared to reference a 2014 speech by an Isil leader calling on followers to stage attacks in their own countries, including hitting pedestrians with vehicles.
Like other impoverished countries in Central Asia, Tajikistan has been a fertile recruiting ground for extremists. At least 1,300 Tajik citizens went to fight for Islamist groups in Iraq and Syria, according to an October report by the Soufan Group.
A man born in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan was accused of the bombing that killed 15 people in the St Petersburg metro in 2017, while Uzbek men carried out the truck attacks that killed five in Stockholm and eight in New York that year.
Several Tajik citizens have been arrested in Russia for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks in recent years.
But deadly attacks on Westerners in Central Asia, where countries have been trying to attract more tourism, have been rare.