An ongoing emergency response exercise was not prompted by a tip off about an imminent terrorist attack, the Maldives police and military said Tuesday night, dismissing rumours to the contrary.
Launched earlier this month, the joint training exercises were planned in the wake of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka in order to beef up security and improve “multi-agency coordination” in responding to emergencies, police said in a statement.
“The Maldives Police Service appeals against spreading information from unreliable sources and false or unverified information on social media,” it added.
But police urged the public to share suspicions or concerns with its 119 hotline or the National Counter-Terrorism Centre’s 1615 hotline.
Brigadier General Zakariyya Mansoor, NCTC director general, told state media that the authorities would not conceal information about a credible threat.
The public was informed before the training exercises in the capital island and its suburbs started on May 5, he noted, appealing against inciting panic with false information.
The second round of the exercise began at 10pm on Tuesday night.
The first exercise was conducted after top level discussions “to constitute inter-agency security structures and devise efficient national responses for possible eventualities,” according to the NCTC.
Visa rules have also been tightened as part of measures to strengthen border security.
As applications for special and business visas would be “subjected to a thorough screening process,” approval could take longer than the routine 48 hours, the immigration department advised.
Earlier this month, Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi told Indian media that there was “no specific or imminent terrorist threat” facing the Maldives.
The emergency response exercise was conducted “in the interest of vigilance,” she said.
“As a country predominantly dependent on tourism, we do not take these attacks within our neighbourhood lightly, and we are acting on these concerns with the urgent establishment of national-level, multi-agency security structures and measures,” she was quoted as saying.