Police: Maldives Speaker Mohamed Nasheed injured in blast

MALE, Maldives (AP) — Maldives’ first democratically elected president and current Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed was injured in a blast Thursday near his home and was being treated in a hospital, police said.

Home Minister Imran Abdulla told a local television that Nasheed’s injuries were not life-threatening and that the government will get the assistance of foreign agencies in the investigations.

Police said they were investigating and urged people to avoid the blast area in the capital, Male, in a text message that didn’t give further details.

Photos circulated on social media showed a ripped-up motorcycle at the scene but police did not say whether the blast was an assassination attempt. However, neighboring India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in a tweet described the blast as an attack on Nasheed.

“Wish him a speedy recovery. Know that he will never be intimidated,” Jaishankar said.

Nasheed, now 53, became the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives after a 30-year autocratic rule. He served as president from 2008 until 2012 when he resigned amid protests. He was defeated in the following presidential election and became ineligible to enter the 2018 election due to a prison sentence. His party colleague Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the 2018 presidential election.

In 2019, Nasheed was elected Parliament speaker and he has remained an influential political figure.

Nasheed has championed global efforts to fight climate change, particularly warning that rising seas caused by global warming threaten the low-lying islands of the Indian Ocean archipelago nation.

He has also been an outspoken critic of religious extremism in this predominantly Sunni Muslim nation, where preaching and practicing other faiths are banned by law.

Maldives is known for its luxury resort islands but has seen rare violent attacks. In 2007, a blast in a park in the capital wounded 12 foreign tourists.

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Associated Press journalist Krishan Francis contributed to this report from Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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