The car of a 67-year security guard in the southern Tajikistan city of Qurghonteppa exploded late at night on March 12 in the vicinity of a military prosecutors’ office, prompting official claims of possible terrorism afoot.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the blast was caused by an incendiary device.
RFE/RL’s Tajik service, Radio Ozodi, reported that the prosecutor’s office in the Khatlon region is investigating the incident as a potential terrorist act, but it has provided few specific details. According to a source cited by Ozodi, investigators are considering the possibility that the security guard, Hasanboi Rahmonov, who was the only person killed in the explosion, was also possibly a perpetrator.
Investigators are questioning Rahmonov’s friends and acquaintances for more details on his background, Ozodi reported.
Meanwhile, news website Asia-Plus reported that the rumor mill in Qurghonteppa is insisting that Rahmonov was but an unfortunate bystander, who might just have been carrying a suspect package to the prosecutor’s office. By way of a supporting argument, people point to the fact that his place of work, a technical lyceum, is right next door to the prosecutor’s office.
Officials have declined to comment on this line of speculation, however.
This is not the first such incident in Qurghonteppa of late. On January 30, a bomb reportedly went off in a village on the edges of the city, which is the capital of the Khatlon region. The early morning blast damaged the Hyundai automobile of an employee with the Beeline mobile phone service company. The owner of the car was not hurt.
Police have yet to make a public comment on that incident.
With investigators so eager to tot up any perceived would-be discovery of terrorism, it is hardly surprising poor old Rahmonov is getting this treatment.
Interior Minister Ramazon Rahimzoda boasted at his start-of-year press conference that 1,367 criminal acts of an extremist or terrorist nature were committed in 2016. He also said 464 people linked to terrorist or extremist groups were brought to justice. As many 26 terrorist plots involving 50 people were quashed, he said.
The attacks were intended to target officials and public figures, government buildings, schools and administrative offices of law enforcement bodies, the minister claimed.