Tajikistan to create ‘tourist police’ after Daesh-claimed attack kills 4

A man signs a book of condolences at the US Embassy in Dushanbe on July 31, 2018, in tribute to the victims of a deadly attack in which two US, a Swiss and a Dutch citizens, were struck by a car and attacked on July 29. (AFP)
Updated 01 August 2018
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Tajikistan to create ‘tourist police’ after Daesh-claimed attack kills 4

  • Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon ordered the creation of the force tasked with “protection of public order and security (and) escort of tourists”
  • The move is a response to the attack by an armed gang on a group of seven foreign cyclists on Sunday

DUSHANBE: Tajikistan on Wednesday pledged to create a “tourist police” force to protect visitors after four tourists were killed in an attack claimed by Daesh.
Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon 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 is a response to the attack by an armed gang on a group of seven foreign cyclists on Sunday which left two Americans, one Swiss and one Dutch national dead along a popular biking route.
The incident was at first reported as a hit-and-run road accident but later claimed by the Daesh militants.
Tajik authorities have declared 2018 to be a “year of tourism” and claim massive increases in visitor numbers.
On Tuesday Daesh released a video showing what it said was a pledge of allegiance by the five men accused of murdering the European and American tourists visiting the impoverished ex-Soviet nation.
Police in the authoritarian country have so far ignored the Daesh claim of responsibility for the attack, instead blaming a banned opposition party with the backing of rival Iran.
The police account has generated skepticism outside the republic due to an ongoing government crackdown on members of the party, which was legal as recently as 2015, Tajikistan’s icy relations with Tehran and the Daesh video footage.
The video released by Daesh on Tuesday shows five men, who resemble pictures of the suspects put out by Tajik police, sitting by a tree in front of a Daesh flag.
The clip shows them swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the group’s leader.
Tajikistan released pictures of four of the suspects after they were killed by police while resisting arrest. A 33-year-old man resembling the fifth participant in the video has been detained.
The victims were killed by being struck by a car and attacked with knives and guns as they cycled along a road off the Pamir Highway — a popular tourist route with spectacular views.
They have been named as Lauren Geoghegan and Jay Austin of the United States, Dutch citizen Rene Wokke and Swiss citizen Markus Hummel.
One Dutch and one Swiss citizen also survived the attack while a French cyclist escaped unscathed.


Nepal police search for 5 missing followers of ‘Buddha Boy’

Updated 6 min 56 sec ago
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Nepal police search for 5 missing followers of ‘Buddha Boy’

  • Ram Bahadur Bamjan became famous in southern Nepal in 2005 when many believed he was able to meditate without moving for months
  • Bamjan has thousands of followers who visit him in his camps, believing he is a reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama

KATMANDU, Nepal: Police in Nepal are searching for five missing followers of a spiritual leader who is believed by devotees to be a reincarnation of Buddha, officials said Monday.
Ram Bahadur Bamjan, also known as Buddha Boy, became famous in southern Nepal in 2005 when many believed he was able to meditate without moving for months while sitting beneath a tree with no food or water. He remains popular despite accusations of sexually and physically assaulting his followers.
Uma Prasad Chaturbedi of Nepal’s Central Investigation Bureau said police raided three of Bamjan’s camps and are keeping him under strict surveillance as they search for the five missing people.
Chaturbedi said jungle areas near the camps were dug up after they received information that bodies might be buried there, but none was found.
The families of the five missing followers have filed cases with the authorities seeking to find them.
Bamjan has thousands of followers who visit him in his camps, believing he is a reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in southwestern Nepal roughly 2,500 years ago and became revered as the Buddha. Buddhist scholars have been skeptical of the claims.