4th suspect arrested in Maldives bombing targeting ex-leader

MALE, Maldives — Maldives police have arrested the fourth and final suspect who was being sought for the bombing that severely wounded the country’s former president earlier this month.

Authorities have blamed Islamic extremists for the assassination attempt on Mohamed Nasheed, who is currently the Parliament speaker and has been an outspoken critic of religious extremism in the predominantly Sunni Muslim nation.

Police said on Twitter the 23-year-old man who had been at large since the May 6 bombing was arrested Wednesday night.

Authorities have not disclosed how the four suspects were linked to the bombing or if they had ties to extremist movements. The charges they may face and when they may appear in court are uncertain.

Police say the homemade explosive device containing ball bearings was attached to a motorbike parked near the ex-president’s car.

The 53-year-old Nasheed, two of his bodyguards and two apparent bystanders, including a British citizen, were wounded. Nasheed underwent surgeries to his head, chest, abdomen and limbs and has since been flown to Germany for further care.

Nasheed was the first democratically elected president of the Maldives, serving from 2008 to 2012, when he resigned amid protests. He was defeated in the subsequent presidential election, and was ineligible for the 2018 race due to a prison sentence, but was elected speaker of Parliament in 2019.

Preaching and practicing non-Muslim faiths are banned by law in the Maldives. Hard-liners have criticized Nasheed for being close to the West and favoring liberal policies.

The Indian Ocean archipelago is known for its luxury resorts but has experienced occasional violence. In 2007, a blast in a park in the capital wounded 12 foreign tourists, and was also blamed on religious extremists.

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