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Third arrest after bomb attack in Maldives

MALE: Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) personnel stand guard in the capital Male yesterday following the May 6 attempted assassination of Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed who is recovering in hospital. – AFP

MALE, Maldives: A third man has been arrested following the attempted assassination of Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, police said yesterday, as they renewed an appeal for more information about another suspect. The democracy pioneer and climate activist was seriously hurt after a bomb attack in the capital Male on Thursday night that also injured a British national and two others, which police have blamed on “religious extremists”.

“We can confirm that a third individual has been arrested in connection with the May 6 attack early today,” police said in a statement. No further details about the man were released. Police also appealed for more information about another man seen in the area where a motorcycle that the bomb had been rigged to was parked.

The owner of the motorcycle as well as another man were arrested on Saturday.
The bomb detonated as Nasheed walked to his car. Family members tweeted that the 53-year-old ex-president, now the parliament’s speaker, remained in the intensive care unit of a hospital. But he was able to speak to close relatives on Saturday after no longer needing life support, they added. There was no immediate update on his condition from the hospital. Nasheed underwent 16 hours of surgery to remove shrapnel from his body and doctors said one shard narrowly missed his heart.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, but officials from Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have alleged that religious extremists and political interests could be involved. The Indian Ocean archipelago of 340,000 people is Muslim majority and in October 2019 police arrested a suspected Islamic State recruiter accused of sending dozens of Maldivians to Syria. The same man was accused of setting off a homemade bomb that wounded 12 Chinese tourists in Male in September 2007.

Nasheed ended decades of one-party rule in the Maldives and became its first democratically-elected president in 2008, only to be toppled in a military-backed coup in 2012. He is known internationally as a champion in the fight against climate change and rising sea levels that he says threaten to submerge the nation of 1,192 coral islands. – AFP

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