A machete knife was lodged into the door of the Minivan News building this afternoon shortly after a renowned gangster removed a CCTV camera from outside the building.
An eyewitness saw two men with long hair flee on a motorbike after leaving the knife on the door at around 2:25pm, immediately after the man took down the security camera.
The eyewitness heard the men pound the door with the knife. The rusty machete knife was left in the door of a ground floor apartment of the building.
One Minivan News member has received a threat by SMS in the hours since the attack.
“You will be killed or disappeared next, be careful,” read the message.
Minivan News has lodged the incident and shared footage with police as well as making an official request for protection for its staff and premises.
The man seen attacking the office – wearing a white T-shirt – is clearly identifiable on the CCTV footage as he walks past the door, reaches up and grabs the camera off its perch.
The incident comes shortly after the publication of an investigative report – commissioned by the Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) – into the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.
Citing the abduction of several young men in June by a vigilante group in a push to identify online activists advocating secularism or professing atheism, the investigation report found gang activity in Rilwan’s abduction to be a “strong possibility.”
The abductions in June followed local media reports of a meeting between Islamic Minister Shaheem and youth groups who expressed concern over insults to Islam online and the promotion of homosexuality.
The man seen attacking Minivan News today appeared to have been part of the group that met both the Islamic minister and Home Minister Umar Naseer prior to the abductions.
“Minivan News is extremely concerned at this blatant attempt to intimidate our staff and damage our premises,” said a spokesman for Minivan News.
“Fortunately, the individual guilty of this attack has clearly been caught on CCTV and so we expect police will have little difficulty in bringing him to justice.”