FBI contradicts Lankan findings in Maldives blast probe

0_1444201220dfs_newsThe Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has contradicted findings by a Sri Lankan investigations teams into the blast on the Maldives President’s boat.

According to Haveeru the US agency said it had found no evidence an explosive device had caused a blast aboard a speedboat carrying the president.

Following the blast, several countries were quick to dispatch experts to the Maldives to help local authorities in their investigation. The international team of investigators included experts from India, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Australia and the US.

The Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed FBI spokesperson as saying that an FBI review of evidence, including an examination of the scene and chemical trace testing, determined that debris from the blast at first considered possible remnants of a bomb were, in fact, parts of the boat.

“There is no conclusive evidence to attribute the explosion on the boat to an IED,’’ the spokesman told the reputed publication.

The FBI’s analysis is in direct contradiction with analysis from other international investigators, including forensic experts from neighbouring Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim were travelling to Male from the airport on September 28 when the explosion took place. They had returned home that morning after concluding their visit to Saudi Arabia to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage.

The president escaped unhurt, but the first lady suffered a spinal fracture. She is still undergoing treatment at the state run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Male.

A national enquiry commission set up to investigate the blast on Thursday had said traces of high grade explosives had been found in the chemical analysis of the blast.

In a statement, the commission said the Saudi Arabia forensics report had said trace amounts of RDX had been found in the chemical analysis of the blast.

President Yameen also said Sunday bomb making material had been found in some of the houses searched during the raids.

He had also said that his vice president was arrested last week because he posed a threat to the country and was using his influence within the police force to impede the investigation into the blast.

Vice President Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor was arrested last Saturday over the blast and taken to the police detention centre in the island of Dhoonidhoo in Kaafu Atoll.

Police jointly with the military had been conducting raids across the capital.

Several of the vice president’s associates had also been arrested while most of the residences raided by the authorities have had close links to Adheeb.

Meanwhile, security forces are finding weapons in a number of raids across the country.

In the latest development, the army confirmed Saturday that two assault rifles found in the biggest weapons bust in Maldives’ recent history belonged to the state armoury.

The items showcased during a press conference earlier Saturday included several hand guns, a T56 assault rifle and a MP5 sub-machine gun. In addition, a large quantity of bomb making material were also displayed at the press briefing.

The weapons had been seized from Hibilhadhoo island in Baa Atoll being developed as a resort.

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