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Saturday May 08 2021

Maldives former president Mohamed Nasheed critical after bomb blast

Maldives former President Mohamed Nasheed speaks during a news conference ahead of the Maldives presidential election, in Colombo, Sri Lanka September 21, 2018. Photo: Reuters

The Maldives speaker of parliament and former president, Mohamed Nasheed, was in critical care on Friday after being severely wounded in a bomb blast outside his home, hospital authorities said, in what police are treating as a terrorist attack.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for Thursday's explosion in the capital Male that has revived security concerns in the Indian Ocean islands, known for luxury resorts but which have also faced political unrest and Islamist militant violence.

Maldivian police officers inspect the area after a blast outside the family home of the speaker of parliament, former President Mohamed Nasheed, in Male, Maldives April 6, 2021. Photo: Maldives Police Service

Nasheed, the Maldives first democratically elected president who is now parliament speaker, had previously warned about militants infiltrating the Islamic country. He was getting into his car when the blast occurred.

The United States was "saddened and concerned" by the attack and stood ready to assist in bringing the perpetrators to justice, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter said on Friday.

Local media said the explosion was caused by a device planted on a motorcycle parked near his car.

Doctors operated to remove shrapnel from Nasheed, who was now in critical condition in intensive care, ADK hospital said.

Debris seen outside the home of speaker of parliament and former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed after a May 6, 2021 car blast attack , in this still image obtained via social media, in Male, Maldives. Photo: Simwarr/ Twitter

"Over the course of the past 16 hours he had life-saving surgery on injuries to his head, chest, abdomen and limbs," the hospital said in a statement.

In 2015, former President Abdulla Yameen escaped unharmed after an explosion on his speedboat. In 2007, a blast that was blamed on Islamist militants targeted foreign tourists and injured 12 people.

Police Commissioner Mohamed Hameed said 450 officers had been deployed to investigate the latest incident.

"We are treating this as a terrorist attack," he told a news conference, adding that the national security threat level had been raised to its highest rating of 3.

A view shows debris after an explosion at Majeedhee Magu Road, in Male, Maldives, May 6, 2021, in this still image obtained from a social media video. Photo: Reuters 

The government is seeking technical support from foreign partners in the case. A team from the Australian Federal Police is expected to join the investigation on Monday.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, a close ally of Nasheed, said Thursday's blast was an attack on nation's democracy and its economy.