A Sri Lankan sniper arrested in Maldives was hired and brought into the country as part of a plot to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, the Maldives police announced, according to Haveeru Online.
Confirming the arrest for the first time, police said in a statement that the 27-year-old man was arrested on October 24. He has been remanded by the Criminal Court for 15 days, the police added.
The police, however, did not reveal any further details. Haveeru first reported the Sri Lankan sniper’s arrest last week.
Maldivian authorities, however, neither confirmed nor denied the arrest at the time.
Reports of the Sri Lankan sniper’s arrest came a day after Maldivian security forces confiscated assault rifles and hand guns in what has been the biggest weapons bust in the country’s history. The weapons had been seized from Hibilhadhoo island in Baa Atoll being developed as a resort.
The army had confirmed that two assault rifles found in the weapons bust belonged to the state armoury.
The items showcased during a press conference last week 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.
Security forces cautioned the public Wednesday to be wary of more illegal weapons on the loose.
At a joint press conference with the police, Captain Ali Ihsan from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) said there was credible intelligence to suggest some people were in possession of more weapons. Those weapons had the potential of endangering the lives of the people, he warned.
“We can confirm that these weapons would be used in a general attack or utilised to launch an attack on particular individuals,” Ihsan said, during the press conference held a few minutes before the declaration of state of emergency on Wednesday.
Assistant police commissioner Abdulla Nawaz assured that every effort was being made to find those weapons. He asked the public to notify the police of any information that could lead to the discovery of those weapons.
The joint warning by the armed forces and the police came a few minutes before the Maldives declared a month-long state of emergency in what has been extraordinary security measures following an explosion on a speedboat carrying the president and subsequent discovery of an arms haul.
In the declaration of emergency, which was read out to journalists at the President’s Office by Attorney General Mohamed Anil, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom said he had reached the decision after consultations with his national security council. Several explosive devices have been discovered in two separate operations carried out by the army and there is credible intelligence of an imminent attack using explosives and weapons, he added.
Such an attack would endanger the lives of the public, the president said.
The declaration of emergency came a day after security forces discovered an explosive device near the presidential palace.
Maldives military had confirmed that the suspected device found in a vehicle parked near the presidential residence of Muliaage in capital Male was an improvised explosive device which had been subsequently been diffused.
The discovery of the IED came just over a month after an explosion aboard the presidential speedboat carrying President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom now confirmed as an attempt to kill the president.
President Yameen was unhurt but his spouse and two others were hurt in the explosion.
The primary suspect in the blast appears to be former Vice President Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor who was arrested on October 24 as soon as he arrived from an official trip to China.
He is accused of high treason, a charge he denies. The government has intensified its crackdown on the former vice president and his associates.
Before and since the former vice president’s arrest, police jointly with armed soldiers have been carrying out raids across capital Male. Most of the houses and offices searched so far had direct links to the former vice president.
Parliament, meanwhile, voted unanimously Thursday to impeach Adheeb. (Colombo Gazette)