Suicide bomber strikes police station in Tajikistan

A suicide bomber killed a policeman and wounded 30 more in an attack this morning at a police headquarters in the second largest city in Tajikistan.

The suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into the Tajik Interior Ministry’s regional organized crime division in the city of Khujand. The blast leveled part of the building.

In addition to the one police officer killed and 30 wounded, one officer is still missing and is believed to have been buried in the rubble, RIA Novosti reported.

No group has taken credit for the attack, but the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a Central Asian terror group with close links to al Qaeda, is the primary culprit. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has moved the core of its operations into Pakistan and Afghanistan after being hunted by the Central Asian republics.

Today’s attack takes place just 10 days after 25 members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan escaped from a prison in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. One guard was killed during the jailbreak, and four more guards were killed at a nearby detention facility. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan fighters were serving long-term sentences for terrorism charges.

Tajik authorities claimed to have captured Ibrokhim Nasriddinov, the leader of the Dushanbe jailbreak. According to The New York Times, Nasriddinov was “extradited to Tajikistan several years ago from the United States detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

But US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal denied that Ibrokhim Nasriddinov was ever detained by the US at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

Tajikistan saw an uptick in attacks from Islamist terror groups during the summer of 2009. NATO opened a supply line from Tajikistan into northern Afghanistan after the Taliban and allied groups heavily targeted the main NATO route from Pakistan.

The largest clash in Tajikistan took place on July 9, 2009, when Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan fighters under the command of Mullah Abdullah sent a force of 300 men into the town of Tavil-Dara and attacked a police station. Abdullah is thought to have crossed from the Afghan province of Kunduz into Tajikistan several weeks before the attack. Eleven days after the attack at Tavil-Dara, the IMU attacked a remote military checkpoint in Tajikistan near the Afghan border. Five IMU fighters were killed during the assault.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal. Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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