Male, May 6 (EFE).- Maldives former President Mohamed Nasheed, currently speaker of the Indian Ocean nation’s parliament, was wounded Thursday when a bomb went off outside his home here, authorities said.
The blast took place in the late afternoon as the 53-year-old Nasheed walked out of the residence in Male’s Neeloafaru Magu neighborhood to get in his car.
In 2008, Nasheed became the first democratically elected leader of the chain of islands some 700 km (435 mi) southwest of India. Ousted in a coup four years later, he spent time behind bars and in exile before making a triumphant return in 2019.
“Following an explosion on Neeloafaru Magu in Male, Speaker of Parliament President Mohamed Nasheed has sustained injuries and is currently receiving treatment at ADK Hospital,” the Maldives Police said on Twitter.
Nasheed’s bodyguard and a passerby – apparently an international visitor – were also wounded, according to Sun and Raajje television.
“I was at home when I heard a loud explosion. I ran to the main street and saw what I think was his bodyguard near his car and a white (man) on the ground. The president was getting into an ambulance,” witness Mohamed Ramiz told Efe.
Television images from the scene showed damaged motorcycles near Nasheed’s car and shattered windows at a nearby shop.
While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Muslim extremists have in the past denounced the liberal-minded Nasheed as an enemy of Islam.
“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,” Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid said on Twitter.
The news also prompted a reaction from Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar, who tweeted that he was “deeply concerned at the attack on Speaker @MohamedNasheed.”
“Wish him a speedy recovery. Know that he will never be intimidated,” India’s top diplomat wrote from London, where he was meeting with G7 foreign ministers.
Three years after his government was toppled, Nasheed was convicted of terrorism for having fired a judge while president and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
He spent a year in custody before being allowed to travel to London for medical care. Once in the United Kingdom, Nasheed successfully applied for political asylum.
When a colleague from his Maldivian Democratic Party won the 2018 presidential election, Nasheed returned to the archipelago and convinced a court to overturn his 2015 conviction, enabling him to be elected to Parliament in 2019. EFE