An 18-year-old man stabbed on Sunday night amid a recent spike in violent assaults in the capital is in critical condition.
The man was stabbed near the Islamic University in Malé around 8:55pm, a police spokesperson said, after which the police promptly arrested 20 suspects and impounded three motorbikes.
Ahmed Afaal, managing director of the ADK private hospital, told the Maldives Independent that the victim is in critical condition at the intensive care unit.
He was transferred to the ICU around midnight when his condition worsened. Afaal was unable to provide details of the injuries due to restrictions under the health services law.
According to local media, the victim was undergoing surgery for severe head injuries. He was reportedly conscious when he was rushed to the hospital but lost movement in his body shortly afterwards.
The police spokesperson declined to provide further details as the investigation is ongoing.
Superintendent Mohamed Shifan told newspaper Mihaaru that it is too early to conclude that the recent cases of assaults are gang-related.
The 20 people arrested last night include suspects as well as others who were brought into custody to prevent further violence, he said.
Shifan said the police have yet to establish a motive for the stabbing. While it is commonly assumed that such assaults are cycles of violence set off by disputes between rival gangs, the superintendent said it could also be an assault involving only two people.
However, some 17 people were arrested last week after two assaults in Malé, one of which involved a group attacking two men.
On the night of November 6, two men driving by on a motorbike were attacked near the Bank of Maldives branch on Majeedhee Magu.
Both men were taken to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital for treatment of minor injuries. They were reportedly attacked with knives and hammers and the assailants fled before the police arrived on the scene.
A man was also assaulted in the Maafanu ward of the capital on the previous night. He was also treated for scrapes and bruises on his hand, according to the police.
Of the 17 suspects taken into custody, 15 were held in remand detention for three days on suspicion of planning to commit violent assault.
The police spokesperson said the arrests were part of an operation carried out on Monday night to patrol the streets and ensure public safety and order.
Police officers stopped and frisked several people and searched gang hangouts.
Some 27 cases of assault have meanwhile been reported to the police so far this month.
The assaults comes after a period of calm in Malé after a spike in gang violence last June saw two 14-year-old boys killed in a fight between rival groups. They were the youngest victims of gang violence in the Maldives.
After the fatal stabbings, former Home Minister Umar Naseer blamed juvenile delinquency on “blind love” from parents and announced plans to send off minors involved in gangs to a police training facility on the island of Vaanee in Dhaalu Atoll.
Some 19 teenagers were sent to a two-month training camp on the island that concluded in August.
In the wake of the violence in June, suspected gang members were also monitored through electronic tags, a measure introduced in the new anti-terrorism law.