Malaysia on Friday announced the deportation of five people, including a Maldivian diplomat, as suspects in an alleged plot to assassinate the president of the Maldives last month.
The five Maldivian citizens were taken into custody during a raid in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday by the Royal Malaysia Police’s counter-terrorism branch, and were sent home two days later “for further investigation” by authorities in the Maldives, Malaysian Police Inspector-General Khalid Abu Bakar said in a news release issued Friday.
One of the suspects, a 47-year-old man, worked as an ‘investment ambassador’ at the Maldivian embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Khalid said.
“He was arrested at an apartment in Kuala Lumpur with four other Maldivians – two men and two women aged between 28 and 38 years old,” according to the police chief’s statement.
“The success of this operation is the result of close cooperation between Royal Malaysia Police and Maldives authorities,” he added.
However, it was unclear whether the Malaysian authorities were responding to a request from the Maldives for the extradition of the five suspects, or whether the Malaysian police had gathered any evidence of their involvement in the alleged plot.
Officials with the counter-terrorism special branch could not be reached on Friday to clarify this point.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry of the Maldives confirmed that the diplomat was arrested in connection with a probe into an explosion aboard a boat carrying the country’s president on Sept. 28, and it named the suspect as Hamid Ismail, according to a report by Reuters.
On that day in late September, an explosion rocked the presidential boat as it sailed into Male, the capital of the island-chain nation in the Indian Ocean. President Abdulla Yameen emerged from the blast unhurt, but his wife and two assistants were injured by it, Reuters reported.
On Saturday, Ahmed Adheeb, the vice-president of the Maldives, was arrested in connection with the explosion, which police have described as “an assassination bid,” AFP reported.
Yet as of Tuesday, Maldivian authorities were still searching for explosives following the blast on the presidential boat, Agence France-Presse quoted Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon as saying.
In March, Yameen’s government sentenced Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives, to 13 years in prison on terrorism-related charges, according to news reports.