Tajikistan: Islamic State says it was behind deadly prison riot

DUSHANBE (TCA) — The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed that one of its “fighters” was responsible for starting the deadly prison riot in northern Tajikistan on November 7, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reported.

The IS statement was carried by its Amaq news agency on November 8. It said the riot erupted after an IS member attacked a prison guard late on November 7.

Sources close to the Tajik government and security officials told RFE/RL on November 9 that the riot at the prison in the city of Khujand was organized by IS supporters convicted of religious extremism and terrorism.

The sources also said that at least 24 people, including two guards, were killed in the riot.

Security sources earlier told RFE/RL that the fighting began after an inmate attacked and killed a prison guard.

Almost two days after the incident, there has still been no official reaction from the government. The local administration only confirmed there had been a riot, without offering further information.

Security forces were on high alert and Justice Ministry and other officials flew to Khujand immediately after the incident, the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media on the issue, told RFE/RL.

They also said that six police officers hospitalized in Khujand with gunshot wounds.

The high-security prison in Khujand mostly houses inmates convicted on charges related to terrorism and extremism and other serious crimes, and is located some 300 kilometers north of the capital, Dushanbe.

The sources said many of the inmates in the Khujand prison were convicted of membership or affiliation with banned extremist groups, including IS, Hizb ut-Tahrir, and others.