The police are seeking assistance from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Australian federal police to investigate an explosion on the president’s speedboat this morning.
Chief Inspector Hamdhoon Rasheed told the press that a joint investigation with the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) is underway.
“We would like to assure the Maldivian people that we will investigate this incident as a serious case and that the Maldivian police and MNDF will work together to find out the truth of how this happened,” he said.
Hamdhoon said a police forensic team was gathering evidence and that he could not reveal further details. The media will be briefed in due course, he said.
The incident on the ‘Finifenmaa’ speedboat around 8:00am this morning left First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim, President’s Office Undersecretary Fathmath Mohamed Solih, and a bodyguard injured.
The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have called for a speedy and thorough investigation.
“We are saddened and concerned by this dangerous incident,” the PPM said in a statement.
The MDP said: “We urge the authorities to immediately launch an investigation into this dangerous incident on the president’s speedboat, and penalize those who have been negligent.”
Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, in a tweet, said he was shocked and deeply concerned by the incident.
Meanwhile, PPM spokesman and MP Ali Arif called on the army to ensure security for the president and his family.
The first lady and presidential aide did not suffer serious injuries, President’s Office Minister Mohamed Hussain Shareef told The Maldives Independent. The bodyguard, Abdul Nasir, suffered relatively serious injuries, he said, but they were not life-threatening.
Journalists awaiting the president at the Izzudin jetty heard a loud blast just before the speedboat docked at the pier, followed by glass shattering, and saw the door on the speedboat fall off its hinges.
“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 [MNDF] will not rule anything out,” Shareef said.
Maldivians on social media have expressed concern over the incident, with some criticizing the MNDF for the explosion.
No need to point fingers on anyone but MNDF/SPG. They failed to protect their Chief in Command. Investigations must start from there.
— Waddey (@waddey) September 28, 2015
Assassination attempt, tech malfunction or stunt, MNDF’s incompetence is seen just the same. Impartial probe out of the question. — Mickail Naseem (@MickailNaseem) September 28, 2015
It’s the most well maintained boat in the country with 24 hour security by the military. Someone has to take responsibility.
— Amr (@HusenAmr) September 28, 2015
Some pointed to the MNDF’s alleged failure to protect former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7, 2012, during a mutiny by the police and elements of the army, and criticized the army for “failing to protect a sitting president again.”
MNDF failed a president in 2012. Are they failing another president? #safety4presidents
— Leela (@leelamad) September 28, 2015
— SighPad M™ (@sipadmohd) September 28, 2015
Others noted several boats catching fire at sea this week, and raised questions over the quality of the fuel distributed in the Maldives.
Yameen was returning to Malé after performing the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and was scheduled to meet the press at the Izzuddin jetty.
Footage from the state broadcaster showed the president attending to the first lady who was on the floor of the speedboat before he was transferred to a police vessel along with others onboard.
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.
The victims are undergoing treatment at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital.
Additional writing and reporting by Ahmed Naish.