Further Gang Arrests

Police Spokesman, Corporal Shiyam, has said six people have now been arrested after a rash of gang violence in Male’, which has left a total of ten people injured, including three policemen. The police have not released any names to the press.

As a result of the unrest, patrols have been stepped up and there is now a highly visible police presence on the streets.

Investigation is ongoing, but Shiyam says the violence is not political. He says it is the result of long standing gang rivalries. When asked whether many of the gang members were drug users, he replied, “maybe.”

A large amount of private property was damaged, including cars, shops and offices. State newspaper Haveeru reported a total of 17 ‘public places’ were damaged. The newspaper went on to say: “While the mob had been out destroying public property, the Police were nowhere to be seen.”

In response to the claim they had not done enough, police Spokesman Shiyam said: “Police tried to stop the violence.” He insists they did all in their powers to stop the clashes.

It appears this latest rash of violence has been sparked by two specific incidents, the beating of a thirteen-year-old boy, who was hospitalised last week and, on Sunday at around 11:30pm, a violent attack on a man at Trends restaurant.

The incidents sparked retribution which saw trouble escalate throughout Sunday night. Armed gangs were seen roaming the streets with swords, knives, bats and other weapons, causing damage to property.

Gang warfare in the overcrowded capital has now reached a level which the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) says is unprecedented, and “totally shocking.”

There continues to be a serious drug problem in Male’ with many people addicted to “brown sugar”, or heroin, which has been a source of various social problems for some time.