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

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.


UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

Updated 18 August 2019

UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

  • Johnson will travel for talks with German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron
  • Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit

LONDON: UK's Boris Johnson will visit European capitals this week on his first overseas trip as prime minister, as his government said Sunday it had ordered the scrapping of the decades-old law enforcing its EU membership.

Johnson will travel to Berlin on Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on to Paris Thursday for discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, Downing Street confirmed on Sunday, amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit in two and a half months.

The meetings, ahead of a two-day G7 summit starting Saturday in the southern French resort of Biarritz, are his first diplomatic forays abroad since replacing predecessor Theresa May last month.

Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit or warn that it faces the prospect of Britain's disorderly departure on October 31 -- the date it is due to leave.

European leaders have repeatedly rejected reopening an accord agreed by May last year but then rejected by British lawmakers on three occasions, despite Johnson's threats that the country will leave then without an agreement.

In an apparent show of intent, London announced Sunday that it had ordered the repeal of the European Communities Act, which took Britain into the forerunner to the EU 46 years ago and gives Brussels law supremacy.

The order, signed by Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Friday, is set to take effect on October 31.

"This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels," Barclay said in a statement.

"This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back -- we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances -- delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016."

The moves come as Johnson faces increasing pressure to immediately recall MPs from their summer holidays so that parliament can debate Brexit.

More than 100 lawmakers, who are not due to return until September 3, have demanded in a letter that he reconvene the 650-seat House of Commons and let them sit permanently until October 31.

"Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit," said the letter, signed by MPs and opposition party leaders who want to halt a no-deal departure.

"We face a national emergency, and parliament must be recalled now."

Parliament is set to break up again shortly after it returns, with the main parties holding their annual conferences during the September break.

Main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to call a vote of no confidence in Johnson's government after parliament returns.

He hopes to take over as a temporary prime minister, seek an extension to Britain's EU departure date to stop a no-deal Brexit, and then call a general election.

"What we need is a government that is prepared to negotiate with the European Union so we don't have a crash-out on the 31st," Corbyn said Saturday.

"This government clearly doesn't want to do that."

Britain could face food, fuel and medicine shortages and chaos at its ports in a no-deal Brexit, The Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing a leaked government planning document.

There would likely be some form of hard border imposed on the island of Ireland, the document implied.

Rather than worst-case scenarios, the leaked document, compiled this month by the Cabinet Office ministry, spells out the likely ramifications of a no-deal Brexit, the broadsheet claimed.

The document said logjams could affect fuel distribution, while up to 85 percent of trucks using the main ports to continental Europe might not be ready for French customs.

The availability of fresh food would be diminished and prices would go up, the newspaper said.