US issues Maldives travel advisory over terrorism

US issues Maldives travel advisory over terrorism
January 13 16:28 2018

The United States has cautioned its citizens over travelling to the Maldives amid concerns of possible terror attacks.

“Terrorist groups may conduct attacks with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls and local government facilities. Attacks may occur on remote islands which could lengthen the response time,” warned the US State Department on Wednesday.

Concern has increased due to a small number of Maldivian extremists who have been involved in transnational terrorist groups and who advocate attacks against secular Maldivians. The statement also noted that threats have been made against local media, political parties and civil society.

In November, two people were charged with planning to carry out a bomb attack in the capital, Malé. The two suspects are alleged to be affiliated with IS, according to reports.

The opposition claims as many as 200 Maldivians are fighting in extremist groups in Syria and Iraq. However, the government claims the opposition is inflating the figure to lobby international support for its cause, offering various lower estimates and decrying damage to the economy due to “exaggerated” claims.

In September, the Maldives downplayed the UK’s caution of a ‘very likely terror attack’. The influx of US holidaymakers has risen steadily, with an estimated 34,411 tourists visiting last year.