Four minors and one adult have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old boy in Malé last Friday.
A 16-year-old and an 18-year-old male were arrested on Sunday night, according to a statement by police.
Three more boys, aged 16 and 17, were then taken into custody last night in connection with the stabbing of Ahmed Irushan – the first victim of Friday’s stabbings.
The criminal court has extended the remand detention of the 16-year-old and the 18-year-old male suspects by 15 and 10 days, respectively.
“The three minors arrested last night will be taken to court sometime today for remand hearings,” the police spokesman said.
The two 14-year-old boys who died of stab injuries Friday night were the youngest victims of gang-related killings in the Maldives. The police did not name the victims, but local media identified them as Ahmed Irushan and Fathir Mohamed.
The first attack occurred at 5:30pm on Friday on the western end of Malé’s thoroughfare Majeedhee Magu. Irushan was stabbed in the neck in a fight between the two gangs inside a lorry. He died at 7:47pm.
The second attack occurred inside Fathir’s home at 9:30pm. CCTV footage shows two boys attack Fathir with knives in the doorway to his house. He attempted to run up the stairs, but the assailants ran after him and stabbed him in the back repeatedly.
Fathir died at 10:30pm. His assailants were also under age and part of the fight that evening.
The police first arrested two suspects, boys aged 15 and 17, on Sunday night.
Initially two boys, aged 15 and 17 were arrested on Sunday. Chief Inspector Abdulla Satheeh in a press conference said they “have had interactions with the police and been involved in crimes.”
The murders sparked outrage among the public, with some accusing the government of neglecting law enforcement while clamping down on the opposition’s activities. At the time of the deaths, more than 50 police officers were dispersing a crowd gathered for a pre-Ramadan feast organised by the Maldivian Democratic Party.
Blaming juvenile delinquency on blind love from parents, Home Minister Umar Naseer meanwhile local media that he planned to send off minors involved in gangs to a police training facility on the island of Vaanee in Dhaalu Atoll.
The programme is scheduled to begin on Friday.
Suspected gang members are now being monitored through electronic tags, a measure introduced in the new anti-terrorism law, he said.
Days before the murders, Naseer had claimed that police efforts to prevent assaults and stabbings have produced results as the crime situation has improved compared to three years ago.
While the number of assaults reported to police during the first five months of 2016 had declined, some 87 cases were reported last month, up from 71 in May 2015.
The fatal stabbings followed several gang fights in Malé during the past two months.