The deadly attack on a group of foreign tourists cycling through Tajikistan has left the government in Dushanbe scrambling to explain what happened on July 29 in the southern Danghara region.
The Tajik government continues to claim the attack was planned and carried out by the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), a group that once shared power in government but was banned in 2015 in a move many saw as the final chapter in a long-running campaign by the government to eliminate its main political rival.
The government's insistence on blaming the IRPT comes despite the release two days after the attack of a video showing the attackers swearing loyalty to the Islamic State (IS) extremist group and posted on the Internet by the IS propaganda wing.
RFE/RL's media-relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, moderated a discussion on the attack, the different versions of who was responsible, and the Tajik government's reluctance to divulge much information about the attack other than accusations against the IRPT.
The Majlis was joined by Edward Lemon, post doc fellow at Columbia University's Harriman Institute and author of the recent report Pathways To Violent Extremism Evidence From Tajik Recruits To Islamic State. From Canada, Jeremy Luedi, editor at Asia By Africa and author of the recent article Under The Radar: Tajikistan On Track To Be The Next Afghanistan, participated in the discussion. Also taking part was Tohir Safarov, editor at RFE/RL's Tajik Service, known locally as Ozodi. I've been exasperated at the predictability of the Tajik government's response to this tragic situation, so I wanted to say a few things also.
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