Emomali Rahmon
Two United States cyclists were killed after being hit by a car in the Danghara district of the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan on Sunday. In this photo, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon (C) makes an opening statement at the start of his meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Palace of Nations in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Nov. 3, 2015. Getty Images/ Brendan Smialowski

UPDATE: 6:15 a.m. EDT — Minister of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan (MIA) Ramazon Rahimzoda confirmed in a press conference that the incident on Sunday in Danghara, which left four foreign tourists dead and three others injured, was part of an armed attack and not just a random hit-and-run.

"This is a shameful crime, three suspects are now on the run, now a special created group is working on it... The full picture of what happened in Danghara is still unclear," Rahimzoda said, Sputnik reported.

According to Rahimzoda, five motivations were being considered by the police including an accident, robbery, murder and even a terrorist act. He added that no criminal case had been filed by the prosecutor’s office.

Investigators believe there was a second attack following the hit-and-run incident, where the suspects aboard the vehicle responsible for driving into the cyclists, sprang out and started attacking the injured tourists with knives. It is not clear if the two U.S. cyclists were stabbed in the attack.

The minister also confirmed the nationalities of all those who were deceased — two Americans, two Dutch and one Swiss.

The driver of the vehicle was identified as 21-year-old resident of Nurek, Jafariddin Yusufov, who fled on foot. One of the attackers were killed when he tried to resist arrest; another one was detained, while three others are in the wind.

Police of Tajikistan released photographs of the three suspects they are trying to track down.

The suspect who was killed carried a firearm with him, suggesting that all the suspects were originally carrying weapons with them when they carried out the attack.

Original story:

Two United States cyclists were killed after being hit by a car in the Danghara district of the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan on Sunday.

The incident, which took place at 3:30 p.m. local time (6:30 a.m. EDT), claimed the lives of another two foreign citizens after a vehicle hit a group of seven cyclists before the driver fled the scene.

“In working closely with Tajik authorities, we can confirm that two American cyclists were killed in the Danghara district on July 29. Due to privacy concerns, we are unable to share further details. Our condolences go out to the victims' families, and we will continue to work with Tajik authorities in the ongoing investigation,” the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, said in a statement on Facebook.

Three of the cyclists died on the spot while the fourth one succumbed to injuries suffered, at the Danghara District Hospital. While the nationalities of the two other deceased cyclists have not been revealed, officials from the interior ministry confirmed there were two Dutch citizens in the group of seven cyclists, News.com.au reported.

Three others were treated for minor injuries. “Three other foreign citizens who received minor injuries were provided medical assistance and moral and psychological support,” a press release by the Tajikistan government stated.

The interior ministry also added that a 21-year-old male was arrested in connection with the alleged hit-and-run incident after the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon directed all units of law enforcement agencies to be mobilized to apprehend the person responsible.

“One person has been arrested, two others resisted arrest and have been killed,” the interior ministry said, the Epoch Times reported.

According to the press release, apart from the interior ministry, officials from the General Prosecutor's Office and the State Committee for National Security were also involved in investigating the incident.

Officials said that while the investigation primarily considered the incident a “traffic accident,” other possibilities that could have motivated the hit-and-run are not being ruled out.

Tajikistan, a nation enveloped by Afghanistan, China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan on the sides, has been under the rule of a single leader since 1992, who has been described by the U.S. Department of State as maintaining an “authoritarian state” and dominating the country’s “political life.”

The former Soviet republic has also been heavily criticized for its record on human rights. A 2008 Human Rights Practices report on Tajikistan, by the State department read:

“The government's human rights record remained poor, and corruption continued to hamper democratic and social reform. The following human rights problems were reported: restricted right of citizens to change their government; torture and abuse of detainees and other persons by security forces; threats and abuse by security forces; impunity of security forces; lengthy pretrial detention; denial of right to fair trial; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; prohibited international monitor access to prisons; restricted freedom of speech, the press and media; restricted freedom of association; restrictions on freedom of religion, including freedom to worship; harassment of international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); difficulties with registration and visas; violence and discrimination against women; trafficking in persons; and child labor.”