A police officer was stabbed to death on Kaashidhoo island in Kaafu Atoll on Sunday night.
According to a press statement released by the police, the victim was identified as 26 year-old Lance Corporal Adam Haleem, who was attacked around 12:00am while on his way to report for duty.
The person suspected of killing the police officer is now under arrest, the statement reads. However, police have not identified the suspect or revealed any further details surrounding the murder.
Local media meanwhile has identified the suspect as Samah, a person with prior criminal record, and has reported that he was released to house detention on Sunday following a two day arrest over an assault case.
Health officials from Kaashidhoo Health Center have told local media that Lance Corporal Haleem suffered serious stab wounds in the attack, including a nine-inch deep stab wound to the chest.
They also confirmed that he was alive but in critical condition when brought to the hospital, and that he died soon afterwards while undergoing treatment.
The process is underway to move the police officer’s body to capital Male’. Haleem, from Kethi house on the island Kaashidhoo, was a husband and father of a three month old baby.
While more details into the fatal stabbing have yet to unfold as the investigation gets underway, with a special forces team dispatched to the island, social networks and media are swarming with comments from cabinet ministers and government-aligned politicians blaming the ousted former President Mohamed Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for the attack.
President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik updated his official Twitter account saying he “strongly condemn the killing of a policeman while on duty. Enough of hate mongering against officers of the Law.”
Dr Waheed added in another tweet that there should be “no excuses to kill anyone let alone policemen on duty. Shame on cowards hiding behind anonymity and inciting violence.”
He has also ordered the national flag to be flown at half staff for three days in honor of the slain police officer.
Though Dr Waheed did not explicitly blame the former ruling party, his spokesperson Masood Imad soon went on to claim on Twitter that “LCoporal Adam Haleem has been stabbed to death by MDP sympathisers. This is the result of Mr Nasheed’s call for inciting violence & hatred.”
Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed also had tweeted that the “murder of police officer came after continuous attack on police force by MDP, calling entire police force traitors.”
In another tweet, Jameel also said that “evidence available to police [which] exposes MDP top leadership calling for violence against the police force.”
Jameel told local media that he had spoken to the father of the victim over the phone, who had requested police to finish the investigation soon and impose death penalty for his son’s murderers.
Lance Corporal Haleem’s murder is the eighth recorded homicide in the Maldives this year alone, and comes just a day after the Criminal Court sentenced to death a young couple charged with lawyer Ahmed Najeeb’s murder.
Government-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP)’s member Abdullah Jabir, who won the Kaashidhoo constituent seat in the recent by-election, told local media Sun, “this incident is a result of lies spread by MDP to incite hatred against police officers.” He further pledged to work within the parliament to do everything necessary to prevent such an attack from repeating.
Several unconfirmed claims surfacing over social media meanwhile claim that the arrested suspect is a JP supporter and is married to a relative of Jabir. Minivan News have not been able to verify the authenticity of these claims so far.
Meanwhile in a tweet, former President Nasheed expressed sympathy for the victim, condemning “the tragic murder of the policeman in K.Kaashidhoo in the strongest possible terms”, but stopped short from responding to any accusations.