Two officials held for blast in Yameen’s boat

Colombo, October 7

Maldivian authorities arrested two security personnel today over an explosion aboard the president’s boat.

Officials suspect it was an assassination attempt. Abdullah Yameen’s security has been tightened in the wake of the September 28 blast that wounded his wife and two others, with a special security unit to protect the president, Minister at the President’s Office Mohamed Shareef told AFP.

“We are now being told that it is likely to have been an attempt on the president’s life,” Shareef said by telephone. He said the two people taken in had access to the vessel “in the line of their duty”, but did not say if they had any direct role in the attempted killing.

Shareef had last week ruled out any connection between the explosion and political unrest in the archipelago, where Yameen’s predecessor Mohamed Nasheed was jailed for 13 years following a controversial trial in March.

The minister’s remarks mark a shift in the government account of the blast, from originally blaming mechanical failure to a suspected attempt on Yameen’s life. Shareef’s comments came days after the United Nations ruled that Nasheed’s jailing was illegal and demanded his immediate release along with compensation.

Shortly after the explosion, the Maldivian government sought help from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Australia, India and Sri Lanka to carry out an investigation.

Shareef said he was not aware of the findings of foreign forensic experts involved in the inquiry.

He noted, however, that new security measures were being taken to protect the president and other key dignitaries, including with the creation of a new presidential security division.

Yameen and his entourage was travelling from the nearby airport island of Hulhule after returning from Saudi Arabia when an explosion rocked the boat. Yameen was unhurt.

The Maldives is a popular upmarket tourist destination, but its image has suffered in recent years due to prolonged political unrest. The country has come in for tough international criticism over the jailing of Nasheed after a rushed trial that the UN said was seriously flawed.

The charge against Nasheed relates to the ordering of the arrest of an allegedly corrupt judge when he was still president in 2012.