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(MALDIVES) JUST IN: Former President Mohamed Nasheed is in a critical condition following a bomb attack #AceNewsDesk report

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#AceNewsReport – May.08: A British national was among four others injured in the blast, which is being treated as a terrorist incident. No-one has claimed the attack:

Mohamed Nasheed: ‘Maldives ex-president in critical condition after bomb blast: Australian police are travelling to the island to help investigate’ he was jailed under anti-terror laws, after being found guilty of ordering the arrest of a judge while in office. However, he was allowed to travel to the UK to receive treatment on his spine, and was then granted refugee status in 2016.

1 hour ago

: Maldives former President Mohamed Nasheed is pictured in Sri Lanka
Mohamed Nasheed was elected in 2008 but ousted four years later

Mr Nasheed was elected in 2008 but ousted in a coup four years later. He is now speaker of parliament – the nation’s second-most powerful position.

The Indian Ocean nation is known for its luxury holiday resorts, but has also faced political unrest and Islamist militant violence.

Mr Nasheed, 53, has been an outspoken critic of hardline Islamists. 

President Ibrahim Solih described the explosion outside Mr Nasheed’s home on Thursday night as “an attack on Maldives’ democracy and economy”.

What do we know about the attack?

The explosion happened at 20:39 local time (15:39 GMT) in the capital Male, just before a night-time curfew was due to go into effect as part of measures to contain coronavirus.

Local media reports said a home-made explosive device was planted on a motorbike parked near Mr Nasheed’s car.

While no-one has claimed carrying out the attack, police said all evidence indicated that it was a “deliberate act of terror”.

Police Commissioner Mohamed Hameed said 450 officers had been deployed to investigate. 

Two experts from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) will arrive in the Maldives on Saturday. It is the second time Australian authorities have helped the Maldives with an alleged assassination attempt. In 2015, the AFP and FBI joined an investigation into an explosion on then-President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat.

ReutersLocal police at the scene – a team from Australia will arrive on Saturday to help the investigation

Two UK experts from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are also assisting.

The hospital treating the former president said he was in a critical condition in intensive care on Friday after surgery to his head, chest, abdomen and limbs.

Among the four other people injured were two of Mr Nasheed’s bodyguards and two bystanders. Details of their conditions are not known. 

Officials said one of the bystanders was a British national, but no name has been given.

President Solih has promised a “swift and thorough” investigation, saying the perpetrators will “face the full force of the law”.

Supporters of Mr Nasheed have gathered outside the hospital where he is being treated. 

A reminder of challenges ahead

Anbarasan Ethirajan, South Asia Regional Editor, BBC World Service News

From outside, the Maldives is a dream tourist destination with turquoise water and sandy beaches. But most tourists do not go beyond their holiday resorts. 

This Indian Ocean archipelago is an Islamic country where its residents follow Islamic traditions and beliefs. In some of the distant islands and atolls, some are conservative or even radicalised. The authorities blame foreign hard-line preachers for the radicalisation. 

The Maldivian security agencies say dozens of jihadists from the Maldives went to Syria to fight on behalf of the Islamic State group and other extremist organisations. After the war ended in Syria, some of them returned. 

When I met Mr Nasheed in Male in 2019, he said the government was looking at this issue seriously. 

Mr Nasheed is not only a pro-democracy icon, but also someone who doesn’t hesitate to criticise religious radicals. Security agencies estimate that hundreds of youths have been radicalised and it’s a big concern for them. 

With so many foreigners visiting the country – bringing much-needed tourism revenue – they do not want jihadist attacks attracting international headlines. But the attack on Mr Nasheed is a clear reminder of the challenges the Maldivian authorities face. 

Who is Mohamed Nasheed?

Mohamed Nasheed is a leading political figure in the Maldives. 

After being elected to power in 2008, he was toppled in a coup in February 2012. 

He returned to the Maldives from self-imposed exile after his party won the 2018 presidential elections, and then entered parliament.

Mr Nasheed is also known for his work on tackling climate change, and for his criticism of religious extremism.

The Maldives is a largely Sunni Muslim nation made up of 1,192 individual islands south-west of the Indian sub-continent as jihadists held over stabbings in Maldives

Its political history has been unsettled since the electoral defeat of long-serving President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 2008 ended decades of autocratic rule.

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.08: 2021:

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