Police, MNDF launch joint security operation after fatal stabbing

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) have launched a joint security operation following the fatal stabbing of a 29-year-old man in Malé last night.

A police media official told Minivan News that the victim – identified as Nooru Adam Hassanfulhu – was stabbed near Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) at around 1:30am. He died while undergoing emergency treatment around 3:25am.

Local media reported eyewitnesses as saying that Adam was stabbed in the neck and ribs by two men who drove by on a motorcycle.

In a separate incident, a 23-year-old man was assaulted around 11:45pm near the Euro Store on Chandhanee Magu.

Police said the victim was released last night after treatment at IGMH.

“No arrests have been made so far related to last night’s stabbings. However, the investigation team has started investigating all of the stabbings,” said the media official.

The fatal stabbing last night follows a spike in violence against expatriates last week that saw two Bangladeshis murdered and four expatriates stabbed.

Adam’s death marked the fifth murder this year. A 23-year-old was stabbed to death outside his home in the Henveiru ward of Malé on February 21, whilst a 29-year-old was killed in Laamu Mundoo on March 20.

The MNDF meanwhile announced today that soldiers would be assisting the police in a special operation launched tonight to ensure peace and security in Malé and other regions across the country.

The security operation – launched at 6:00pm – involves checking vehicles at land, conducting inspections of vessels at sea, and stopping and searching individuals, MNDF said.

After expressing concern over the deteriorating security situation in capital Malé, the home ministry last night cancelled the annual Earth Hour activities.

The ministry asked the public not to switch off lights and cancelled two music shows.

The Ministry of Economic Development meanwhile changed the closing time of shops and restaurants to 10:00pm and 12:00am, respectively.

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Three arrested with ten machetes in Malé

Police arrested three young men and confiscated ten machetes at 3:45am in Malé City’s Henveiru Ward last night.

According to a police statement, Specialist Operations (SO) Officers patrolling the area stopped the young men when they noticed suspicious behavior. The machetes were found nearby.

The three young men included two 19-year-olds and a 15-year-old minor.

The two 19-year-olds had been stopped and searched on numerous occasions previously, the police said.

Street violence is common amongst Malé City’s numerous gangs. On Sunday, a 25-year-old Bangladeshi worker was stabbed to death in the early hours of the morning in Mafaannu Ward.

On February 22, a 24-year-old was stabbed to death outside his home in Malé.

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Young man stabbed in the neck in Malé

A young man has been stabbed in the neck on Wednesday night near Reefside Shop in Malé, local media have reported.

According to Haveeru, Mohamed Nazeem was injured in a gang fight and has been hospitalized at the ADK Hospital. He remains in critical condition.

Gang violence has been on the rise in recent weeks after 24 year old Jailam Ahmed Shakir was stabbed to death on February 22.

Eyewitnesses told Minivan News that Jailam was stabbed numerous times by two men armed with machetes as he was sitting outside his house.

Police have arrested an individual in relation to Jailam’s death and remanded his detention for 15 days.

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Minor stabbed in Malé

A 14-year-old boy was stabbed in the capital Malé around 7:45pm last night (February 25), reports local media.

Police said the minor was attacked in the Guhdhoos Goalhi off Boduthakurufaanu Magu and sustained an inch-deep cut near his elbow.

The victim was taken to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital and released after treatment.

Local media outlet CNM reported that the stabbing was a case of mistaken identity.

The incident follows the murder of a 24-year-old in Malé on Saturday night (February 21).

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Failure to prosecute serious crimes tantamount to “state-sponsored terrorism,” says Nasheed

The government’s failure to investigate and prosecute serious crimes is tantamount to “deliberate state-sponsored terrorism,” contends former President Mohamed Nasheed.

In a statement issued yesterday on the occasion of International Human Rights Day (December 10), the opposition leader accused senior government officials and elements of the police of complicity in abductions, murder, arson attacks, and gang violence.

“I note that the government has not investigated such incidents that have occurred throughout the year and serious criminals are on the loose. The state has not pressed charges against them,” the statement read.

Nasheed argued that the government’s inaction has caused harm and undermined fundamental rights, calling on the public to “find courage from each other for justice and stand up against inhumane torture.”

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) was formed to change the old system of governance and bring an end to ill-treatment and torture inflicted on citizens by the state, the statement observed.

“Custodial abuse was stopped under the MDP’s first government. Maldivians began to find hope and courage,” it continued.

“[But] the flame of hope is again flickering out.”

At a rally held last month to celebrate the current administration’s first year in office, President Abdulla Yameen pledged to crack down on violent crime and implement the death penalty.

“We have peace and order in Malé and all regions of Maldives. We have peace. However, this is not to say that isolated and significant dangerous crimes do not occur,” he said.

Unresolved cases

Nasheed’s statement went on to list serious crimes that have occurred in 2014, stressing that the perpetrators have not been brought to justice in the majority of the cases, including the stabbing of former MDP MP Alhan Fahmy on February 2.

An expatriate lorry driver was stabbed and robbed of cash and a mobile phone on January 25, the statement continued, while two days later, three men were stabbed in separate incidents in the capital Malé.

On February 3, a minor was assaulted with a wooden plank near the Adi Park in the Henveiru ward of the capital and sustained head injuries.

While suspects were taken into custody in some of the cases, Nasheed noted that none of the arrests led to criminal prosecution.

On April 12, former Gender Minister Dr Amaal Ali was robbed at knifepoint at her residence.

“On April 4, 2014, a 79-year-old was stabbed in Gaaf Dhaalu Thinadhoo,” the statement continued. “On May 18, 2014, Mohamed Naeem, of Baa Hithaadhoo Thiraa, was stabbed and injured in an assault inside a guesthouse in Malé.”

On July 31, a 35-year-old man was stabbed to death on the island of Thulusdhoo in Kaafu atoll and the suspect voluntarily submitted to police.

Two days later, two young men were stabbed in Malé, resulting in the death of 18-year-old Mohamed Mazin while undergoing treatment for stab wounds.

In the previous week, four men and a woman were assaulted in separate incidents. While one man was mugged in the Maafanu ward, two men were stabbed in Hulhumalé, a woman was stabbed in the back in the Galolhu ward, and a fourth victim was stabbed in the Henveiru ward.

On August 23, two men and a minor were assaulted and stabbed by masked men on motorcycles in the Dhidhi Goalhi in front of Iskandhar School in Malé.

One of the victims, Ahmed Aseel, 19, later died as a result of injuries sustained in the assault.

Police intelligence suggests that the spate of violent assaults in Malé since the beginning of Eid Holidays were gang reprisals “caused by a disturbance between two groups,” Chief Inspector Abdulla Satheeh told the press at the time.

More recently, a man was injured in a violent assault on October 3, a group of girls were attacked with a chain in Raa Madduvari on October 9, and a young man was stabbed near the police tow yard in Malé on October 26.

During the past month, two men were stabbed in a café in Malé on November 2 and a young man was assaulted with an iron rod in the Galolhu ward of Malé on November 16.

Earlier in the day, an 18-year-old man was arrested after entering the Bilabong International High School with a machete during a gang fight.

On December 7, a 28-year-old man was stabbed to death in Malé near the People’s Majlis building.

Nasheed also referred to the suspected abduction of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan 125 days ago, accusing the government of both negligence in investigating the disappearance and covering up the abduction.

Moreover, in June, a vigilante mob abducted several young men in a push to identify online activists advocating secularism or professing atheism.

Nasheed noted that police did not investigate the incidents despite media reports.

“During the past year, press freedom and freedom of expression have declined. Intimidation of journalists and youth active on social media have become commonplace. The government has obstructed peaceful political activity,” the statement read.

In October, Amnesty International called on the government to “intensify efforts” to find those responsible for death threats, abductions, and violent attacks against journalists, politicians, and civil society activists.


Related to this story

Yameen pledges to end violent crime at ‘Successful 365 Days’ rally

MDP condemns insecurity as PPM celebrates peace and order

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Man assaulted in Malé

A young man was assaulted with an iron rod in the Galolhu ward of Malé around 9:15pm last night (November 16), reports local media.

According to eyewitnesses, the victim was assaulted by a group in the Karaa goalhi. He was taken to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital for treatment to his injuries.

Earlier in the day, an 18-year-old man was arrested after entering the Bilabong International High School with a machete during a gang fight.

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Gang assault with machete in Billabong high school

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

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Home minister and pro-government MPs discuss legislative steps to curb gang activity

Home Minister Umar Naseer has begun meetings with pro-government MPs about necessary amendments to the laws in the initiative to inhibit gang-related criminal activity.

Naseer met with parliamentarians from ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in Muleeaage yesterday (October 14), as well as meeting with Jumhooree Party parliamentarians at their main campaign offices.

The proposed changes include amendments to the act on stopping gang-related crimes and to laws prohibiting the carrying of sharp weapons as well as a temporary act on stopping gang activity, Naseer told local media.

“The delay in tackling gang related crimes is a deep concern even of parliamentarians. We have now had the chance to confer with them and see what their thoughts on the matter are,” Naseer said.

“Reactions from parliamentarians of both Jumhooree Party and Progressive Party of Maldives were positive to my recommendations. At the moment, I cannot share further details of the suggested changes,” Umar Naseer told Minivan News today.

Earlier in the week, however, Naseer explained to local media some of the changes he proposed to bring to these acts.

Changes include the introduction of “soft curfews” on identified gang members, changes in the process of completing an investigation, in taking the matter to court, and in the completion of criminal cases in court.

“The problem is the period between these two regimes. After police concludes an investigation and the case is sent to court, it sometimes takes from 2 to 3 to even 10 years before the court presides over the case,” he is quoted as saying.

Naseer has previously spoken of concerns about the lack of cooperation between police and the Criminal Court.

On August 4, Naseer stated in parliament that a “special police operation” was ongoing to curb gang violence in the capital following a spate of violent assaults in recent days.

He went on to suggest that the problem was exacerbated by insufficient police resources, revisions being required for certain laws, and drug trafficking.

Special efforts from police resulted in the dismantling of ‘gang huts’ around the capital, before President Abdulla Yameen called a halt to the process, announcing that the government would instead seek more comprehensive solutions to the issue.

Following his unsuccessful campaign in the 2013 PPM presidential primary, Umar Naseer accused fellow candidate Yameen of having links to criminal gangs and the drug trade. Since being appointed home minister, however, Naseer has retracted these accusations.

The home minister announced in September that the police had identified about 30 gangs, with 50 gang leaders and 500 gang members operating in the country, especially on the streets of Malé.

He added that 13 of these 30 gangs can be considered as “highly dangerous”.

He said at the time that the government is planning an ‘attack’ to address the increase in gang related crimes – including assault, murder, and drug offences.

The issue of gang violence has become increasingly prominent in recent years, with stabbings and intimidation of journalists covering these crimes becoming commonplace.

A series of attacks on the offices and homes of journalists and MPs last month prompted concern from the EU at the level of gang activity in the country, while a private investigation into the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan suggested radicalised gangs may have been involved.

2012 study of the Maldives’ gang culture by the Asia Foundation revealed that “political and business elites” exploit gangs to carry out a range of illegal activities including the suppression of opponents and carrying out tasks to help maintain popularity or divert media attention from political issues.

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Six arrested in connection with assault

Police arrested six men in connection with a violent assault in the artificial beach area of Malé around 2:50pm yesterday (October 3).

The six suspects in custody include two men who sustained injuries in the assault, police said, who were arrested following treatment at the ADK hospital.

Eyewitnesses told local media that the assault occurred when a man wearing a mask and carrying a machete knife entered the Dine-more restaurant.

Shortly thereafter, he was chased out by four men, who followed him into the Shawarma cafe on Majeedheemagu. Equipment and property at the cafe were damaged in the altercation.

Police said the suspects were arrested from the scene of the crime.

While two stabbing incidents occurred last week, a spate of violent assaults in the capital in August – which police said was a series of gang reprisals – saw two young men stabbed to death.

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