Armed soldiers patrolling Malé’s streets

Armed soldiers patrolling Malé’s streets
October 12 17:52 2015

Soldiers carrying rifles are patrolling the streets of capital Malé amidst heightened tension over an apparent assassination attempt on President Abdulla Yameen.

Major Adnan Mohamed of the Maldives National Defence Forces (MNDF) told The Maldives Independent that soldiers have been deployed in pairs to the streets of Malé as part of a military exercise scheduled to continue until October 15.

When asked if the exercise was related to an explosion on Yameen’s speedboat on September 28, he said: “The exercise is not in reaction to a particular situation. From time to time we carry out such exercises, there are routine training drills.”

He declined to comment on the number of soldiers involved in the exercise.

The soldiers have been seen since Sunday at various locations across the city.

Three soldiers were arrested in connection to the blast last week. The two soldiers were arrested on suspicion of tampering with evidence, local media report.

Yameen escaped unhurt, but First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim remains hospitalized.

The president met with MPs of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), its ally Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) and former coalition partner Jumhooree Party to brief them on the explosion today.

On Sunday, he met with the Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed and senior police officers at the police headquarters.

The head of the police intelligence directorate and the head of the military unit tasked with providing security to the president have been replaced.

Yameen has set up a six-member commission comprising of senior military and police officers to investigate the explosion. Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer is heading the inquiry commission.

Speaking to Reuters last week, minister of Presidential Affairs Mohamed Hussain Shareef said investigators from the US, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Sri Lanka have ruled out mechanical failure. “They are now telling me that they have enough evidence to believe that it is likely to have been an attempt on the president’s life.”

Condemning the attack, Vice President Ahmed Adeeb last week declared his unwavering loyalty to the president and dismissed speculation of his involvement in the blast.

Two of his bodyguards have been suspended since the explosion, but Adeeb dismissed the suspensions as routine.

Correction: October 17, 2015: This article previously said two soldiers and an immigration official were arrested in connection to the boat blast. This is incorrect. All three arrested over the explosion are MNDF officers. An immigration official was never arrested in this case. 

Additional writing by Zaheena Rasheed