Youths Arrested Over Gang Violence

Police arrested nine people in Male’ on Friday suspected of involvement with local gangs.

They were between 16 and 24 and were reportedly bearing weapons near Taise Yard when they were apprehended by Police.

According to the Maldives Police Service, who were making a routine patrol when the arrests were made, weapons confiscated included wooden sticks, steel bars and cricket bats.

The Police action comes after a raise in the level of gang violence in Male’. Earlier this month ten people, including three police officers, were injured and many properties damaged as rival gangs battled each other on the streets of the capital.

So far, police say a total of nine people have been arrested in connection with the disturbances but that investigations are far from over.

This most recent violence is believed to have been sparked by two incidents: the beating of a thirteen-year-old boy, hospitalised earlier this month, and an attack on a man at Trends restaurant on 17 December.

The incidents sparked retribution and violence throughout the night of the 17th. Armed gangs were seen roaming the streets with swords, knives, bats and other weapons.

The police have been heavily criticised by the local press and public for not taking more action quicker. But authorities insist they did everything in their power to stop the violence and have since raised the number of police patrolling the streets.

Commenting on the most recent wave of violence, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said the gang warfare is unprecedented and “totally shocking”.

Police Spokesman, Corporal Shiyam, says the violence is not political, but rather the result of long standing gang rivalries.

The growing gang culture in the Maldives is closely linked to widespread heroin addiction.