Islamic State claim of arson attack on government property, underlines latent threat in the Maldives

by Alex Theodosiou

On 15 April, seven vessels were destroyed by a fire in Alifu Dhaalu Atoll on the Maldives’ Mahibadhoo Island. In a press conference later that day, the Commissioner of Police Mohamed Hameed described the destruction of the four speedboats, one sea ambulance, and two dinghies (all but two belonging to the government).

According to Hameed, the sea ambulance was the first to be set on fire and that the fire spread to the other boats docked nearby. Although no casualties or arrests have been reported at the time of writing, police officers are reportedly looking into the attack as an act of retaliation for recent investigations into religious extremism and drug trafficking in the country.

On 16 April, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in its weekly al-Naba publication, marking its first ever declaration of an attack in the country. The claim largely restated the already publicly available information released by authorities, stating that the boats belonged to the “Apostate Maldivian government and its loyalists”, adding that militants had destroyed the vessel using “incendiary bombs”.

An image, published by the Maldives National Defence Force on 15 April, of the Islamic State-claimed arson attack on the coast of Mahibadhoo Island, South Ari Atoll. (Maldives National Defence Force)

An image, published by the Maldives National Defence Force on 15 April, of the Islamic State-claimed arson attack on the coast of Mahibadhoo Island, South Ari Atoll. (Maldives National Defence Force)

Militancy in the Maldives

As previously noted by Jane’s

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On 15 April, seven vessels were destroyed by a fire in Alifu Dhaalu Atoll on the Maldives’ Mahibadho...

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