Asia

Maldives boat blast: Two presidential aides arrested

Officials carry an injured woman off the speed boat of Maldives President Abdullah Yameen (not pictured) after an explosion onboard in Male, Maldives (28 September 2015) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Maldives authorities say that they are now investigating an assassination attempt

Two security officers have been arrested in connection with an explosion on board Maldives President Abdullah Yameen's speedboat last month.

Officials have also said for the first time that the explosion was an assassination attempt.

The president and his entourage were returning from the Hajj pilgrimage on 28 September. He was unhurt, but his wife and two aides were injured.

Initially the government said mechanical failure might be to blame.

Minister at the President's Office Mohamed Shareef told reporters the blast was now believed to have been an attempt on Mr Yameen's life.

He said that the mechanical failure theory had been ruled out by investigators from the US, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Sri Lanka.

The two people arrested on Tuesday had access to the vessel "in the line of their duty," Mr Shareef said. However he did not say if they had any direct role in the attempted killing.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The government of President Abdullah Yameen (centre, front) denies that the detention of Mohamed Nasheed is arbitrary

He said that new measures were being introduced to provide better protection for the president and other key dignitaries, including the formation of a presidential security division.

President Yameen, 59, came to power after a fiercely-fought presidential election in 2013.

His defeated rival Mohamed Nasheed was imprisoned for 13 years earlier this year after a speedy trial on terrorism changes in a case that has drawn international criticism.

Earlier this week a UN working group concluded that Mr Nasheed had been arbitrarily detained and had not received a fair trial. It called for him to be immediately released.

Mr Nasheed's legal team argue that he has been jailed to stop him from standing in the 2018 election.

But the government says that Mr Nasheed was convicted of "an offence of the utmost seriousness" by the Maldives courts, and it is for the judiciary to determine whether his imprisonment is lawful or otherwise.

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