Terrorism & Insurgency

Islamic State-inspired attack highlights growing threat to tourism industry in Maldives

11 February 2020

Key Points

  • On 4 February, three foreign nationals were stabbed and wounded by unidentified suspected militants in Hulhumale in the Maldives’ North Malé.
  • In a video released shortly after, which was circulated by pro-Islamic State channels on Telegram, an unidentified group claimed responsibility for the attack. At the time of writing, there had been no official Islamic State claim.
  • The attack, amid the backdrop of heightened security measures, highlighted the growing vulnerability of the tourism sector, which is the country’s largest GDP contributor

On 4 February on the island of Hulhumale in the Maldives’ North Malé, two Chinese nationals and one Australian national were stabbed within the span of one hour by unidentified suspected militants. Although it has not been confirmed where exactly the stabbings took place, Hulhimale is one of the primary tourist destinations in the country and lies directly to the northeast of the nation’s capital Malé and the Velana International Airport.

Shortly after the stabbings, an unidentified group released a video, which was circulated by pro-Islamic State channels on Telegram, claiming responsibility for the attack. In the video, three masked individuals stated that the attacks were meant to damage the country’s tourism sector and warned of future violence. The video could not be independently verified. Although at the time of writing there had been no official Islamic State claim, the selection of soft targets in this attack is in keeping with the Islamic State’s call to engage in violence domestically, however rudimentary. On 6 February, the Maldives Police Service announced in a statement that officers had arrested three suspected militants in an unspecified location in connection with the attack.

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