At least 32 people were killed in a prison riot in Tajikistan, including 19 members of the Islamic State jihadist group and three guards, authorities said yesterday.
Five inmates and the three guards were initially killed by prisoners in the violence that erupted on Sunday evening, and the others died in clashes with security forces trying to restore order, the justice ministry said in a statement.
The prison in Vakhdat, 17 kilometres (11 miles) east of the capital Dushanbe, holds 1,500 inmates. The ministry said the rioters first stabbed to death three guards, and then five other inmates “in order to intimidate” the others.
They then took other prisoners hostage before opening fire in the jail’s medical facilities. “Following a reprisal operation, 24 members of this group were killed and 35 others arrested. The hostages were freed” and calm restored, the statement said.
Tajikistan’s interior ministry later specified that 19 of those killed had been convicted for having ties to IS. Five were activists of the banned opposition group Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan.
Others were convicted of various crimes, including drug trafficking. The rioters also beat and injured 10 inmates, the ministry said. Among the alleged leaders of the riot, the authorities identified Bekhruz Gulmurod, the son of the former head of Tajik special forces who became a member of the IS leadership in Syria and was killed there in September 2017.