Suspect in Maldives blast arrested in Lanka

0_1446396718shumba_newsOne of the eight suspects wanted in connection to the explosion aboard the presidential speedboat late September was arrested in Sri Lanka late Sunday, Haveeru reported.

Ahmed Ashraf, known by his social media moniker of Shumba Gong, is a self-declared supporter of the embattled vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor.

His last tweet believed to be sent just before his arrest read “Some ppl smashed my doors trying to come in. May Allah protect us all!”

Police confirmed the arrest but did not say when Ashraf would be repatriated by the Sri Lankan authorities.

Maldivian authorities had on Sunday warned an international manhunt would be launched if the suspects did not return to the Maldives voluntarily.

Home minister Umar Naseer who heads a national enquiry commission constituted by the president to investigate the blast had said the suspects were in neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand.

“I urge them to come here voluntarily and cooperate with the investigation. Otherwise, we’ll have to bring them through the Interpol,” the minister said, during the press conference at the President’s Office capital Male.

“They’ve been evading justice after committing an act of terrorism in the Maldives.”

In addition to Ashraf, the other identified suspects are Mohamed Allam Latheef, Mohamed Hussein, Mohamed Visham, Mohamed Aseel Ahmed, Hussein Sinan and Ahmed Ishfah Ali.

Allam is also a close associate of the now detained vice president. He is one of the four shareholders of a company that owns Hibilhadhoo island in Baa Atoll, which is being developed as a resort, from where the armed forces had discovered a large weapons stash.

The weapons showcased during a press conference 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.

However, Allam who is believed to be in UK, through his lawyer had denied any knowledge of the weapons found in the island.

Adheeb’s relative had been arrested in Malaysia and repatriated to the Maldives as the crackdown on the VP’s close associates continued before and after his arrest.

Vice President Adheeb was arrested last week over the blast aboard the presidential speedboat carrying the president in September.

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. (Colombo Gazette)