Maldives president sacks defense minister after boat blast

AP News
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Posted: Oct 14, 2015 5:06 AM

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The president of the Maldives fired his defense minister on Wednesday, a move believed to be linked to an explosion on the leader's speedboat last month that officials suspect was an assassination attempt.

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Muaz Ali did not give a reason for Defense Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel's dismissal, but the firing comes amid arrests and transfers in the Defense Ministry following the Sept. 28 blast that wounded President Yameen Abdul Gayoom's wife, an official and a bodyguard. The president was uninjured.

The explosion occurred as Gayoom and his wife were returning by boat from the country's airport to the capital. They are on separate islands in the archipelago state.

International investigators probing the blast haven't yet announced its cause. Authorities say they have ruled out the possibility of mechanical failure and believe it is much more likely to have been an attempt on the president's life.

Two soldiers who had access to the presidential boat have been arrested. Defense officials and two security personnel attached to the vice president have also been transferred.

Soldiers have been deployed to guard the streets of the capital, Male, an unfamiliar sight in the popular tourist destination.

Maldives is not known for serious violence despite a history of bitter political rivalry and disputed elections.