Tajik court says Islamic State plot targeted president

Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmon takes oath during his inauguration ceremony in Dushanbe in this November 16, 2013. REUTERS/Press Service of presidential administration of Tajikistan/Handout via Reuters

DUSHANBE (Reuters) - Two Tajiks recruited by the militant group Islamic State planned to assassinate President Imomali Rakhmon last year, a court in the capital Dushanbe said on Friday.

The Dushanbe district court said it had sentenced the two, a man and a woman, last December to 10 and eight-and-a-half years in prison respectively. It said they were both residents of the capital.

The case and the sentence were not made public at the time.

Rakhmon faced an attempted coup last September led by a deputy defense minister who then died fighting government troops.

Rakhmon, who has run the landlocked central Asian republic since 1992 and used Russian support to crush Islamist guerrillas in a 1992-1997 civil war, blamed that coup attempt on the opposition Islamic Renaissance Party, which was then banned.

The Dushanbe government says more than 1,000 Tajiks have joined Islamic State, the most high-profile case being former colonel Gulmurod Khalimov, the U.S.-trained commander of Tajikistan’s elite police force.

Reporting by Nazarali Pirnazarov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Gareth Jones