President Survives Maldives Boat Blast; US Assisting Investigation

President Survives Maldives Boat Blast; US Assisting Investigation

In breaking news Monday morning, multiple media sources are reporting that the president of the Maldives, Yameen Abdul Gayoom, was not hurt in a large explosion that rocked a boat he was traveling on as it docked. Apparently, Gayoom escaped unhurt from the blast, but his wife, an aide and a bodyguard were injured in the explosion. Gayoom and his entourage were returning from the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Police in the Maldives said they were seeking help from the United States and Australia in the investigation into the Maldives boat blast Monday on the president’s personal watercraft.

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Maldivian police official Hamdhoon Raseed told the media at a presser that authorities had requested assistance from the U.S. Australian law enforcement as they undertake an investigation into the blast.

The Maldives, located in the Indian Ocean several hundred kilometers southwest of India, is famous for its gorgeous beaches and island resorts. While the country has seen a good bit of political infighting and disputed elections over the last few years, it is not known for political violence or bomb attacks

More on Maldives boat blast

Maldivian Cabinet Minister Mohamed Shareef said the Maldives boat blast happened Monday morning just as the president’s speedboat arrived at the jetty in the capital of Male. While Gayoom was not hurt, his wife, Fathimath Ibrahim, and an aide sustained minor injuries. A member of the presidential bodyguard sustained more serious injuries, Shareef noted.

The cause of the blast was not known at this time. Of note, the explosion appears to have happened in the engine room. Analysts point out that boating accidents sometimes involve explosions and fires, and are not uncommon in the Maldives.

“We are not ruling out anything, whether it is an accident or an attempt on the president’s life,” Shareef noted, continuing to say that investigators were examining the boat and doing a close analysis of video of the boat explosion.

Media sources report that President Gayoom left the hospital by late afternoon on Monday, while his wife stayed at the hospital dealing with a back injury.

Keep in mind that the Maldives international airport is located on a separate island, and a trip by boat is required to get to the capital island of Male.

Ahmed Hamdhoon, a local Maldivian journalist who was on the jetty to cover Gayoom’s arrival, commented that he heard a loud explosion the moment the boat docked. He noted that after the explosion, “The right door of the boat fell on the jetty and there was heavy smoke. People were screaming.”

More on Maldives President Yameen Abdul Gayoom

Maldives President Yameen Abdul Gayoom is apparently not a very nice person. For starters, he came to power in a bitter presidential election, then he jailed the leader he defeated, Mohamed Nasheed, a few months later on for terrorism on pretty clearly bogus charges. The trumped-up charges against Nasheed have drawn notable international criticism, including from human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who recently called for international sanctions against the Maldives until the country ends the imprisonment of Nasheed.

Political analysts note that the ongoing crackdown against political dissidents is staining the reputation of the Maldives as a vacation paradise. Experts also note that hundreds of disaffected Maldivian youth have left home to go to fight for Islamic State militants in Syria or Iraq.

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