Bomb squad officers defused tonight a homemade bomb found on a vehicle parked near the presidential palace in Malé.
The bomb, made out of dynamite and wrapped in a t-shirt, was discovered near Muleeaage at 5pm today, according to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF). The surrounding streets were cordoned off and people living in the neighborhood were evacuated.
President Abdulla Yameen, who prefers to live at his private residence, only uses Muleeaage for official meetings.
The military transported the bomb to the sports grounds at the city’s southwest corner at 6pm. Hundreds were evacuated from the Ekuveni Stadium and surrounding streets were closed to traffic. The bomb was defused at 9pm.
Live blog ended at 12am.
12:00am: Recently appointed Defence Minister Adam Shareef Umar has praised the MNDF for “a successful operation.”
I thank the MNDF for the excellent and coordinated effort made to defuse the IED found near Muleeaage without any further disruption.
— Adam Shareef Umar (@Adamshareefz) November 2, 2015
Congratulations to the MNDF for the successful operation to search and defuse the IED found near Muleeaage. — Adam Shareef Umar (@Adamshareefz) November 2, 2015
11:30pm: The government has no plans to declare a state of emergency in the country, Ihusaan added.
11:15pm: After inspecting the suspicious object and determining it may be a bomb, security forces cordoned off the area, evacuated residents from buildings, and transported the bomb to the sports arena to minimise any damage, Ihusan said.
Bomb-squad officers defused the bomb by disconnecting the explosives from its power source. The dynamite weighed 50 grams.
“If this had gone off, I cannot specify the exact area [of impact], but it would have caused a lot of damage. This is a powerful explosive. This is used to blow up mountains.”
The dynamite does not belong to the state armory, he said.
“The fact there was no explosion is an indication of our success.”
11:00pm: Speaking to reporters, MNDF Captain Ali Ihusaan said the army had received an intelligence tip off of a bomb plot on Sunday. By 4pm today, soldiers confirmed the location of the bomb. An hour later, the bomb was found left on top of the battery compartment of a white lorry near Muleeaage.
The bomb was made of stick dynamite, a powerful explosive used to blow up mountains. Its primary power source was a pack of four batteries and secondary power source was a factory made combined battery pack that could be detonated remotely. The battery pack and the dynamite were taped together and wrapped in a t-shirt and packed into a bag full of fabric.
10:20pm: Bomb-disposal experts have defused an improvised explosive device found strapped to a vehicle parked near Muleeaage, the MNDF has said in a brief statement.
9:40pm: Police officers are opening up streets near the Ekuveni Stadium to traffic. The bomb squad has left the grounds, local media report.
9:30pm: The military has called a press conference at 10pm.
9:20pm: An employee at the airport said the fire broke out at the Etihad Airlines office. The small fire has been put out now.
9:15pm: Foreign Ministry says that a state of emergency has not been declared in the Maldives.
State of Emergency NOT declared in Maldives
— MFA-Maldives (@MDVForeign) November 2, 2015
9:00pm: A fire has been reported at the Malé international airport. Soldiers are guarding petrol sheds in the city.
8:00pm: In a tweet, Home Minister Umar Naseer stressed that security forces have not yet determined if the suspicious object is an explosive device.
A suspected device found near Muleeaage is now being moved to MStadium & MNDF is searching the device. NOT confirmed as an explosive device.— Umar Naseer (@UmarNaseerPPM) November 2, 2015
Live footage aired by Raajje TV shows police and military officers active at the sports grounds.
Rumors of a bomb briefly created panic at 6pm when police officers evacuated people from buildings near Muleeaage. Ibrahim Waheed, who lives on the narrow lane behind Muleeage, said police officers told his family to leave for their own safety.
On the other end of the city, police officers evacuated hundreds of people from the sports grounds. One man told The Maldives Independent that an officer had told him a bomb had been discovered in the city.
At the time, the police spokesman Ismail Ali, said several areas in the city would be closed for a routine joint military and police exercise. He refused to comment on reports of a bomb.
Security forces lifted the blockade at Muleeaage at 7:30pm after the object was transported to the Ekuveni Stadium.
The incident comes days after the security forces seized weapons from the reef of an island leased for tourism development. The haul included firearms that had gone missing from the state armory, grenades and improvised explosive devices.
The weapons raid was conducted as part of an inquiry into an explosion on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat. The government says the September 28 blast was caused by a bomb targeting the president.