Sri Lanka arrests Maldivian wanted over ‘bomb plot’

Sri Lanka arrests Maldivian wanted over ‘bomb plot’
A Maldivian has been arrested and deported from Sri Lanka over his involvement in an alleged bomb plot against Maldives President Abdulla Yameen.
PHOTO: AFP

COLOMBO - Sri Lankan authorities have arrested a Maldivian man wanted in connection with an alleged bomb blast aboard President Abdulla Yameen's speed boat and forced him to return home, an immigration official said Monday.

The man, identified as Ahmed Ashraf, was arrested on Sunday night in a Colombo suburb after the Maldives asked Sri Lanka to cancel his visa, immigration department spokesman Lakshman de Zoysa told AFP.

De Zoysa said he was not deported but instead handed over to the Maldivian authorities in Sri Lanka for repatriation.

"We acted on a request from the Maldivian High Commission," he said. "As he no longer had a valid visa he was asked to go back. He went this morning. His ticket was arranged by the High Commission."

Ashraf is reportedly an close associate of the country's Vice President Ahmed Adeeb who was arrested last month over an alleged plot to kill Yameen, fuelling fears of fresh turmoil on the honeymoon islands wracked by political power struggles.

President Yameen was unharmed in an explosion on his speedboat on September 28 that slightly injured his wife and was described by authorities as an attempt on the leader's life.

Media reports in the Maldives said Ashraf, one of eight suspects wanted by the Maldives in connection with the blast, was arrested on arrival and sent to a detention centre for interrogation.

President Yameen ordered a major shake-up of his security following the explosion and sacked several of his ministers, although it emerged over the weekend that an FBI report found no evidence of a bomb blast.

Maldivian Home Minister Umar Naseer said on Sunday that eight suspects had fled the country and gone into hiding.

The Maldives has faced tough international criticism over the jailing in March of its first democratically elected leader Mohamed Nasheed, after a rushed trial which the UN said was seriously flawed.

Yameen, who came to power in November 2013 following a controversial election, faces international censure over his crackdown on supporters of opposition leader Nasheed and other opponents of his regime.

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