An explosion occurred on a speedboat carrying President Abdulla Yameen from the airport to Malé this morning.
Yameen was unharmed, but First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim, a presidential aide, and a bodyguard are undergoing treatment for injuries, President’s Office Minister Mohamed Hussain Shareef told The Maldives Independent.
The first lady and Fathmath Mohamed Solih, undersecretary at the president’s office, did not suffer serious injuries, Shareef said, and are currently undergoing treatment at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).
The president’s bodyguard, Abdul Nasir, is in “pretty bad shape,” Shareef said, but the injuries are not life-threatening.
“It was a relatively large blast. The explosion could be heard a few blocks away. Part of the roof, the speedboat’s housing, fell in, so fortunately there was no suffocation related injuries,” he said.
“We do not know if this is an accident. The speedboat is with the army. We do not know if it was mechanical, deliberate or if something was planted. The Maldives National Defence Force [MNDF] will not rule anything out.”
Yameen was returning to Malé after performing the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and was scheduled to meet the press at the Izzuddin jetty at 8:00am.
A loud blast was heard just as the ‘Finifenmaa’ speedboat docked at the pier, followed by glass shattering, and the door on the speedboat fell off its hinges. Journalists on the scene heard loud screams. It was raining at the time.
Reporters were immediately pushed back from the area by the police and military.
Footage of the incident from state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) shows Yameen and others being transferred to a police vessel. Fisheries Minister Dr Mohamed Shainee, MP Ahmed Siyam Mohamed, president’s office staff, and some family members of the president and first lady were on the speedboat when the explosion occurred.
Shareef said the police and MNDF are investigating the incident.
The president, vice president, and all cabinet ministers are at IGMH, Shareef said, as doctors are conducting scans and tests on the first lady and the presidential aide.
This morning’s incident occurred 30 days after a video message was posted on YouTube showing three masked men with guns threatening to kill the president and vice president.
The video was posted by a user called ‘Slavery slave’ with the militant organisation Islamic State’s (IS) logo in the corner. The police launched an investigation at the time, but the authenticity of the video and its links to IS remain unclear.
The men threatened to kill the president and launch terrorist attacks against the tourism industry within 30 days if the government does not comply with three demands: stop “harassment” of Ibrahim ‘Sandhaanu’ Moosa Luthfy in Switzerland, release Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, and withdraw new anti-terrorism legislation.
Photo from social media.
Additional reporting and writing by Zaheena Rasheed