A blast that wounded former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed and four other people, including a British national, was a terrorist act, police said, and they are trying to identify four possible suspects.
Incidentally, Mr. Nasheed, 53, was wounded in the blast outside his home Thursday night as he was trying to get into his car, police said.
After life-saving surgeries on his head, chest, abdomen and limbs, he is in critical condition in an intensive care unit, ADK Hospital announced Friday evening.
Mr Nasheed has been an outspoken critic of religious extremism in the predominantly Sunni Muslim nation, where preaching and practicing other faiths is banned by law.
Chief of Police Mohamed Hameed said police are treating the blast as a terrorist act against the former president. Two of Nasheed’s bodyguards and two apparent bystanders, including a British national, were also wounded, he said.
Law enforcement has not found any military components in the explosives used, Hameed said. Efforts are under way to identify four possible suspects, but no arrests have been made.
No one has claimed responsibility for the blast. Photos on social media showed a damaged motorcycle at the scene.
The current speaker of parliament, Nasheed was the Indian Ocean archipelago’s first democratically elected president, serving from 2008 to 2012.
Current President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said in a televised address that Australian Federal Police investigators will arrive Saturday. Australian police said they will consider what assistance they can provide in the investigation.
The Maldives is known for its luxury resorts, but has also experienced occasional violent attacks. In 2007, an explosion in a park in the capital wounded 12 foreign tourists.
The violence has been attributed to a rise in religious extremism. The Maldives has one of the highest per capita numbers of militants who have fought alongside the so-called Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
Maldivian authorities announced in January that eight people arrested in November had planned an attack on a school and were in the process of building bombs in a boat at sea.
Police said they had also conducted military training on uninhabited islands and recruited children.
Mr. Hameed said it was not known whether the attack on Mr. Nasheed was linked to that group.
His presidency ended 30 years of autocratic rule, but his term was cut short when he resigned amid protests.
He was defeated in the subsequent presidential election and convicted of terrorism under his predecessor for arresting a senior judge during his presidency and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
He was allowed to go to the United Kingdom for medical treatment and was granted asylum there in 2016. His party colleague Mr. Solih won the 2018 presidential election and Mr. Nasheed was able to return home.
He has remained an influential figure and was elected speaker of parliament in 2019. He has championed global efforts to combat climate change, particularly sea level rise, which threatens the low-lying islands of his archipelago.