IS behind deadly prison riot, say Tajikistan

A riot at a high-security prison outside Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe on Sunday night that left 29 prisoners and three guards dead was started by inmates belonging to Islamic State, authorities said.

The incident happened around 9.30 pm in Kirpichniy prison in Vahdat district, 15 kilometres east of Dushanbe.

The situation in the prison is under control.

The justice ministry said a fight broke out between imprisoned members of Islamic State and the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan or IRPT.

Authorities said Behruz Gulmorod, son of an Islamic State commander Gulmorod Khalimov, instigated the violence and Fakhriddin Gulov, an IRTP member serving 26 years jail term for his role in another prison riot, plotted it.

The Islamic State jail inmates first stabbed three prison guards before killing five prisoners belonging to IRPT.  

Among those killed in Sunday’s riot was Kiemitdin Gozi, a founding member of IRPT, who was serving eight years jail term for carrying out anti-national activities for Iran’s security services. Tajikistan’s security officials had abducted Gozi in St Petersburg, Russia, in 2017 and brought him back to the country.

Abduusattor Karimov, a prominent IRPT member serving 26 years in jail for his alleged role in a failed coup was also killed in the riot.

Another casualty was Saidmahdihon Sattorov, a self-styled “prophet of the end of the world” who was serving 16 years jail term for extortion, polygamy and defiling corpses.

As the news of the riot spread on Monday, families of inmates gathered in front of the prison to find out if their relatives were safe.

The violence in Kirpichniy prison is not an isolated incident in Tajikistan.

In November last year, at least 23 people, most of them prisoners, were killed in a prison violence in the northern city of Khujand.

Then also, the government blamed the Islamic State for the bloodshed and did not order an independent investigation into the incident.

Islamic State was again blamed when four foreign cyclists were crushed to death by a speeding car in southern Tajikistan in July last year.

Authorities claim hundreds of Tajiks had joined Islamic State in recent years.

Troubles started after Tajikistan, along with other Muslim-dominated Central Asian regions such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, became free with the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991.

Tajikistan became poorer after independence as the civil war in the 1990s wrecked the economy of the mountainous country.