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.


Dutch, UK polls open, starting 4 days of European elections

Updated 39 min 28 sec ago
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Dutch, UK polls open, starting 4 days of European elections

  • Voters across Europe will elect 751 lawmakers in the elections
  • UK’s 73 lawmakers in the EU Parliament will lose their jobs if the country leaves the union

THE HAGUE: Dutch and UK polls opened Thursday in elections for the European Parliament, starting four days of voting across the 28-nation bloc that pits supporters of deeper integration against populist Euroskeptics who want more power for their national governments.
A half hour after voting started in the Netherlands, polls opened across the United Kingdom, the only other country voting Thursday, and a nation still wrestling with its plans to leave the European Union altogether and the leadership of embattled Prime Minister Theresa May.
The elections, which end Sunday night, come as support is surging for populists and nationalists who want to rein in the EU’s powers, while traditional powerhouses like France and Germany insist that unity is the best buffer against the shifting economic and security interests of an emerging new world order.
French President Emmanuel Macron says the challenge is “not to cede to a coalition of destruction and disintegration” that will seek to dismantle EU unity built up over the past six decades.
In a significant challenge to those centrist forces, populists appear largely united heading into the elections. On Saturday, Italy’s anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was joined at a rally by 10 other nationalist leaders, including far-right leaders Marine Le Pen of France’s National Rally party and Joerg Meuthen of the Alternative for Germany party.
On Thursday morning, UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn released a message with a warning that “the far-right is on the rise” and adding that “the actions we take now will have huge consequences for our future.”
Voters across Europe elect a total of 751 lawmakers, although that number is set to drop to 705 when the UK leaves the EU. The Dutch make up just 26 currently and 29 after Brexit. The UK has 73 European lawmakers, who would lose their jobs when their country completes its messy divorce from the EU.
Results of the four days of voting will not be officially released until Sunday night, but Dutch national broadcaster NOS will publish an exit poll after ballot boxes close Thursday night.
The Netherlands could provide a snapshot of what is to come. Polls show the right-wing populist Forum for Democracy led by charismatic intellectual Thierry Baudet running neck-and-neck with the center-right VVD party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
While the country, an affluent trading nation, profits from the EU’s open borders and single market, it also is a major contributor to EU coffers. Skeptical Dutch voters in 2005 rejected a proposed EU constitution in a referendum.
Baudet, whose party emerged as a surprise winner of provincial elections in March, identifies more with hard-line Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban than with the nationalist populist movement led by Salvini, although in a debate Wednesday night he called Salvini a “hero of Europe” for his crackdown on migration.