Eight gangsters threaten MDP protesters with knives, vandalise lorry and speaker systems

Eight gangsters wielding knives threatened opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members and vandalised the party’s lorry and speaker systems ahead of a protest last night.

Eyewitnesses told Minivan News, eight young men allegedly belonging to Malé’s gangs, charged into a group of 20 protesters with knives at around 9:00pm, threatened them and shattered the windows of a lorry and speaker systems that were to be used for the night’s protests.

The gangsters shouted, “You cannot do this, this is our country too!”

The MDP has held daily protests since February 10, first against President Abdulla Yameen’s alleged constitutional violations and later against the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail for terrorism on March 13. The MDP has since pledged to launch a national civil disobedience campaign to free the party’s leader.

Speaking to Minivan News, MDP member Aisha Hussain Rasheed said the group threatened former MP Ibrahim “Bonda” Rasheed with a knife, telling him to stay back as they shattered the windows of the lorry carrying the sound system.

An MDP member took a picture of the gangsters, but they chased him down, took his camera from him and broke it.

A police van arrived on the scene, and police arrested one of the attackers, Aisha said.

“We told the police, please protect us, we are also Maldivian citizens. This is your country too, why won’t you do anything? The police, however said, ‘What are we supposed to do?’ Then they left,” she said.

Another eyewitness said a forensic team came ten minutes later and took pictures.


A police media official declined to comment on the incident, but said no arrests were made last night.

The MDP issued a statement today condemning the police’s inaction, noting the attacks happened in public and were documented through photos and videos.

“The police are obliged by law to protect peaceful protesters. We note with great concern that police have failed to take action even as such groups continue to repeatedly attack MDP protests and destroy our property,” the statement said.

A group of young men had attacked MDP protesters on February 27, and cut off opposition-aligned Raajje TV’s live feed. Protesters on March 13 also reported that a group of young men threatened MDP supporters with box cutters and threw crude oil on protesters.

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has also held numerous rallies in support of the government and calling for a speedy sentence in Nasheed’s terrorism trial.

The opposition has alleged hundreds of Malé’s gangsters attend the government rallies, a claim the PPM has denied.

Minivan News has observed several young men who had been charged with murder at the front lines of pro-government rallies on March 7 and February 19. Three young men seen in the front-lines of PPM bike rally on March 7 included one charged with the murder of 15-year-old Ahmed Shaneed in 2008 and two charged with the 2012 murder of 33-year-old Ali Shifan. They were all acquitted by the Criminal Court.

Speaking after the rally, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb called on the opposition to stop its nightly protests.

“Don’t make us take to the streets. These are Malé City’s youth. This is a very strong crowd. If these young men get angry it would not be good. That’s why we are with these young men in their homes. We are people who love peace, so don’t make us come out to the street,” Adeeb warned, according to Sun Online.

“We won’t give him [President Nasheed] anymore chances. You [the opposition] will also have to go home. Then we will also quietly stay home,” he added.

MDP subsequently condemned Adeeb’s speech and accused him of threatening the opposition with violence.

“MDP is alarmed by the threats of violence against opposition protesters, made by senior members of President Yameen’s administration,” a statement issued by the party on March 8 read.

“This is a desperate and dangerous escalation of the current crisis by the government. President Yameen’s administration is baring its fangs,” spokesperson for MDP, Hamid Abdul Gafoor said at the time.

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Two men and minor stabbed in Malé

Two men and a minor were assaulted and stabbed in Malé around 8:50pm last night in the Dhidhi Goalhi in front of Iskandhar School.

According to police, a 19-year-old, a 20-year-old, and a 13-year-old were injured in the assault and taken to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) for treatment.

Local media has identified two of the victims as Abdulla Majid, 20, from Azum in Kaafu Guraidhoo, and Aseel Ahmed, 19, from Blueniaage in Thaa Thimarafushi.

Eyewitnesses said a group of masked men stabbed the two men in the back and struck the minor on the head before fleeing on motorbikes.

While one of the victims reportedly lost consciousness and fell to the ground, the other two escaped into a nearby house.

Of the three, Aseel’s condition was reported to be critical. He was immediately taken into the operating theatre at IGMH.

IGMH Media Official Zeenath Ali Habeeb told Minivan News today that the victim’s condition was “serious.” He has regained consciousness after undergoing major surgery, but remains sedated at the intensive care unit (ICU).

Police are meanwhile searching for suspects and no arrests have been made as of the time of press. The case is under investigation by the serious and organised crime department.

A resident of the area told Minivan News that two knives and an axe were found near the staircase of their house after the attacks.

The weapons appeared to be unused and were taken as evidence by the police, who had cordoned off the road.

Residents of the house believe they were stored by the gang for use in the assaults.

Shortly before the incident, a young man had attempted to retrieve the weapons, but found the gate of the house was closed. He had asked a resident to be let in but was refused.

Following a spate of violent assaults in Malé earlier this month – which saw an 18-year-old fatally stabbed – Chief Inspector Abdulla Satheeth told the press that police intelligence suggested the assaults were gang reprisals sparked by “a disturbance between two groups.”

Chief Inspector Ismail Naveen meanwhile told reporters that police have confiscated a number of weapons from areas where gangs congregate, including the Henveiru Park, the park on Alifkilegefaanu Magu, and the open area near the State Trading Organisation’s main office.

On August 13, police began dismantling huts and clearing out makeshift dens in open spaces in the capital used exclusively by gangs.


Police arrest 13 in violent clash at MDP camp, after police stations vandalised

Police arrested 13 people after clashing with demonstrators at the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s ongoing protest early on Wednesday morning.

The MDP accused police of vandalising the MDP’s protest camp near the tsunami monument and attacking the party’s supporters at 2:45am in the morning.

However police have said they were pursuing a a group of young people on motorcycles who had attacked police buildings that evening, before retreating to the MDP camp

An MDP supporter who witnessed the incident told Minivan News that the police arrived after a group of young people opened a ‘Youth Jagaha’ near the tsunami monument, and then left on motorcycles to ride around the streets.

“They apparently vandalised some police stations during the motorbike ride, and then the police came and attacked the protest camp,’’ he said. ‘’Police destroyed our podium in the area and the sound system, as well as chairs and other property,’’ he claimed.

One young person was thrown into the sea wall and was subsequently taken to hospital.

Police said a group of men armed with knives vandalised police stations in Male’, threatening officers in the traffic police station with knives and destroying a computer monitor. The group also threatened officers inside the Police Iskandhar Koshi.

Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News that police had followed the group to the area on the side of the tsunami monument park furthest from the MDP camp, near the army medical centre, where they had been attacked.

“Police called for backup and by the time the pickup arrived, people were there with stones,” Shiyam said. “When police entered the [camp] to arrest the suspects forcefully, everyone in the area became hostile to police. There was a huge confrontation,” he added.

Several police officers sustained injuries, none serious, he said. Police arrested 13 people and withdrew from the area.

“This was a very serious thing and we are sad that it happened,” Shiyam said. “We have no interest in doing anything [to the MDP camp], and we don’t want to have a confrontation. But people are coming out of the area, committing acts of violence, and going back there to hide, which is not something to be accepted.”

Police had asked organisers of the protest to take responsibility for the actions of those gathered there, he added.

MDP supporters have held an ongoing protest near the tsunami monument, dubbing it ‘justice square’, following the resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed in what they contend was a coup d’état.

MDP supporters have been sleeping and gathering in the area since Nasheed’s resignation, reportedly under duress.

The party has meanwhile released  pictures of injured protesters and vandalism of the square.