An 18-year-old man has been arrested after entering Billabong International High School with a machete during a gang assault.
Billabong Executive Director Ahmed Adhly Rasheed explained that a gang attack outside the school caused one individual to run into the school while the gates were open as pupils left for the day.
Police confirmed they were informed of a disturbance near Billabong school at 3:08pm, with another man was taken to hospital for treatment to head injuries received during the attack.
A third man arrested at the scene was later released after it was found he had not been involved in the incident.
Eye witnesses told Haveeru that a group of three men entered the school, one of them with a machete.
“Two of the men were captured by members of the public while the man with the machete was able to escape from the area,” said the eye witness.
As the timing of the gang violence coincided with the end of the school session, many students saw the attack up close.
The staff member explained that poor security has been a concern of the staff for a long period of time, noting that the neighbourhood was notorious for gangs and that anyone was free to walk into the school at any time.
The employee recalled an incident last year where a girl on her way to the school was injured after an assault by local gangs. The empty plot of land in front of the school is reported to be a regular meeting spot for gangsters.
Executive Director Rasheed, however, stated that the school has a strict security policy, with the gate closed and guarded throughout school hours.
“We have done what we can do to protect our children and staff from such incidences within our boundaries,” said Rasheed, who praised the school’s security measures for stopping the intruders.
“We have even reported the case of street violence each time in writing when a gang violence has occurred near the school even if it has nothing to do with the school.”
Gang violence has become one of the most prominent issues in the Maldives, with a 2012 study by the Asia foundation counting 20 to 30 gangs in the capital, each with 40 to 500 members.
Four recorded deaths have occurred as a result of gang violence so far in 2014, with one of them a case of mistaken identity.
Speaking in September, Home Minister Umar Naseer noted that he had identified around 50 gang leaders, and said that 13 of the 30 gangs in Malé could be considered “dangerous” criminal organisations.
Naseer linked the criminal activity strongly to gangs, saying “We cannot find a solution to the problem of stabbing and murders on the street without stopping drugs.”
*Article updated 24/11/14 to include responses from Billabong International High School