May 7, 2021 7:38:04 pm
The Maldives police said Friday an explosion that wounded former President Mohamed Nasheed was an act of terrorism but no suspects were identified.
Australian police said they are ready to assist the investigation.
Nasheed, 53, was wounded in the blast Thursday night outside his home and was being treated in a hospital in the capital, Male, police said. Home Minister Imran Abdulla told a local television that his injuries were not life-threatening.
He is the current Parliament speaker and was the first democratically elected president of the Indian Ocean archipelago, from 2008 to 2012.
Maldives police said in a text message they treat the explosion as an act of terrorism but did not give details on possible suspects or the bomb device. No one has claimed responsibility for the blast. Photos circulated on social media showed a ripped-up motorcycle at the scene.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said in a televised speech that Australian Federal Police investigators will arrive on Saturday. The Australian Federal Police said its members will engage with Maldives police and assess the assistance that can be provided to their investigation. It declined further comment.
Nasheed has been an outspoken critic of religious extremism in the predominantly Sunni Muslim nation, where preaching and practicing other faiths are banned by law.
The Maldives is known for its luxury resorts but has seen rare violent attacks. In 2007, a blast in a park in the capital wounded 12 foreign tourists.
Violence has been blamed on a rise in religious extremism. The Maldives has one of the highest per capita numbers of militants who fought in Syria and Iraq.
Arrests have been made from time to time. Maldives authorities announced in January that a group of eight arrested last November were found to have been planning to attack a school and were in the process of building bombs in a boat at sea. Police said they also conducted military training on uninhabited islands and had recruited children.
Nasheed’s presidency ended a 30-year autocratic rule, but his own term was cut short when he resigned amid protests. He was defeated in the subsequent presidential election and became ineligible to enter the 2018 race because of time served in jail. His party colleague, Solih, won the vote.
Nasheed remained an influential figure and was elected Parliament speaker in 2019. He has championed global efforts to fight climate change, particularly rising seas threatening the low-lying islands of his archipelago nation.
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