A bomb blast injured former Maldives president and current parliament speaker Mohamed Nasheed on Thursday, officials and residents said. The 53-year-old pro-democracy pioneer was about to get into his car in the congested capital when a bomb was detonated, officials said.
Local media reports a home-made explosive device was planted on a motorbike that was parked nearby. A team from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) force will travel to the Maldives to help in the investigation. “Nasheed escaped an assassination attempt,” a Maldivian government official told AFP by telephone. “He is injured, but his condition is stable.” Armed police units and security forces cordoned off the area where the attack took place. The Indian Ocean nation of 330,000 Sunni Muslims is known for its regular political turmoil as well as its luxury holiday resorts. Police confirmed that Nasheed sustained injuries but did not give details. They said he was being treated at the ADK Hospital in Male. The blast came just before a night curfew was due to go into effect in the capital as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus. Mr Nasheed, 53, was the first democratically elected president of the Maldives and has been an outspoken critic of hardline Islamists. He won multi-party elections in 2008 but was ousted in a coup four years later.
Mr Nasheed is currently serving as the speaker in parliament, which is the Indian Ocean nation’s second-most powerful position. President Ibrahim Solih described the explosion as “an attack on Maldives’ democracy and economy.”