32 killed in Tajik prison riot; IS held responsible

Many have joined the terror group

Three prison guards and 29 inmates were killed in a prison riot in Tajikistan that the government blamed on Islamic State (IS) militants.

Tajikistan’s Justice Ministry said the riot broke out late on Sunday in the prison in the city of Vakhdat, 10 km east of the capital Dushanbe, as militants armed with knives killed three guards and five fellow prisoners.

The militants then torched the prison hospital, took several inmates hostage and tried to fight their way out. Security forces killed 24 militants in the battle to restore order in the prison, the Ministry said.

The prison houses 1,500 inmates, some of whom rights activists describe as political prisoners. Among prisoners who were killed by militants were two senior members of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, which was outlawed by the government of President Imomali Rakhmon in 2015, the Ministry said.

The authorities said one of the instigators of the riot was Bekhruz Gulmurod, a son of Gulmurod Khalimov, a Tajik special forces colonel who defected to the IS in 2015 and, according to the government, has since been killed in Syria.

Hundreds of people from the country are believed to have joined the IS. The group claimed responsibility for another Tajik prison riot last November, which followed a deadly attack by its followers on Western tourists in July 2018.

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