The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group has claimed responsibility for the killing of four foreign cyclists who were attacked by at least one assailant with a gun and knife after being run down by a vehicle in Danghara district (Khatlon province), some 150 kilometers south of Dushanbe, on July 29.

The New York Times says that in a bulletin issued by the ISIS internal news agency on Monday, the group described the assailants as “soldiers of the Islamic State” and said the attack was “in response to calls to target citizens of Coalition countries.”

That wording is reportedly a reference to a 2014 speech by the terrorist group’s former spokesman, in which he called on the group’s followers carry out attacks in their countries in any way they could, including by using cars to crush pedestrians. The choice of language indicates that the militants view the attackers in Tajikistan as having been inspired by propaganda, and that they were not directly deployed by the terrorist organization, according to The New York Times.  

In a video obtained by Radio Liberty on Monday that purports to show the attack, a car can be seen making a U-turn on a rural road and then speeding back through a group of fallen and injured cyclists. Tajik Interior Ministry officials said the occupants of the car then got out and stabbed and shot some of the survivors, leaving little doubt that the assault was intentional.

The Tajik Interior Ministry said on July 30 that four cyclists were killed -- two Americans, one Dutchman, and a Swiss citizen -- and at least three others, including one French nationals, were injured.

The Tajik officials say terrorism is being considered four deaths and said that members of the security services had detained one person in connection with the deadly incident and had killed four people suspected of being involved in the attack, all natives of Tajikistan. 

A statement released by the British Foreign Office on July 30 says, “a factual update on a collision between a vehicle and 7 western tourists cycling near Danghara, southern Tajikistan, on 29 July; 4 of the 7 cyclists were killed in the collision and a subsequent knife attack; if you're travelling in the area you should exercise caution and vigilance.” 

There are no previously known terrorist attacks on foreigners in Tajikistan. The ISIS’s claim of responsibility appears to be its first for an attack inside Tajikistan.

According to a report, Beyond the Caliphate: Foreign Fighters and the Threat of Returnees, released by the Soufan Group in October 2017, at least 1,300 citizens of Tajikistan traveled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS terror group.  That is among the largest numbers for a single country.