Four tourists traveling through Tajikistan on bicycles were killed when a auto drove into them Sunday, and officials in the former Soviet republic considered an extremist plot among the possible motives for the "attack" after officers detained suspects armed with knives and guns, the country's interior minister said Monday. Three other cyclists were injured but survived.
Tajik authorities did not say what the motive was for the attack.
A traveler on the M41 road (also called Pamir highway), crossing the Pamir plateau in Tajikistan. The other three cyclists - also believed to be foreigners - were treated for minor injuries.
The deaths of the four people - two Americans, one Swiss and one Dutch citizen - were originally reported as a hit-and-run incident that occurred on Sunday about 150 miles south of the capital, Dushanbe.
Investigators searched the village of Torbulok following the incident and identified a damaged vehicle that showed "involvement in the commission of this crime", according to a statement sent to CNN Sunday from the Tajikistan Interior Ministry.
Another person was arrested and a damaged auto believed to have been involved was recovered. AFP reported that separate police accounts indicate that at least four suspects have been arrested and five killed by police.
"We are looking into all versions - accident, robbery ... including a terrorist act", Ramazon Rakhimzoda told a briefing. Later, officials said three of the four people believed to be in the auto at the time of the collision were tracked down to a village called Torbulok and that two of them were killed while resisting detention.
Bikes on the Pamir highway in Tajikistan.
President Emomali Rakhmon, whose hometown is near the site of the attack, expressed his condolences to the leaders of the United States, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Tajikistan is one of the poorest former Soviet republics and has struggled with poverty and instability since its independence in 1991.
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