A suspected bomb blast injured former Maldives president and current parliament speaker Mohamed Nasheed on Thursday and he has been rushed to hospital, officials and residents said.
The explosion went off as Nasheed, 53, was getting into his car in the capital Male, an official from his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), told AFP by telephone.
“It looks like some sort of an improvised explosive device, possibly rigged up to a parked motorcycle,” the official said adding that an investigation was under way.
There were no details of the injuries suffered by Nasheed. At least one of his bodyguards was also taken to hospital.
Meanwhile, his injuries were minor according to India’s ANI news agency quoting Diplomatic sources in capital Male ‘.
Residents in Male said the blast was heard across the capital.
Nasheed became parliament speaker, the Indian Ocean nation’s second most powerful position, following his party’s landslide victory in elections in April 2019.
He became the country’s first democratically elected president after winning the first multi-party elections in 2008. He was toppled in a coup in 2012 and was unable to contest the 2018 presidential elections after he was convicted of criminal charges.
However, he returned to the country from self-imposed exile after his party won the 2018 presidential elections and then entered parliament.
Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid strongly condemned the attack.
In a statement on Twitter he said: “Cowardly attacks like these have no place in our society. My thoughts and prayers are with President Nasheed and others injured in this attack, as well as their families.
Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar has expressed deep concern over the explosion which targeted Speaker Nasheed, and hopes that the Speaker will recover swiftly.
In a tweet posted shortly after Speaker Nasheed was reported to have gone into surgery, Dr. S. Jaishankar wrote in his tweet that Speaker Nasheed would “never be intimidated.”