MNDF deny reports of injured suspect in Raajje TV arson attack being treated at military hospital

The Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) has issued a statement denying reports spreading across social media that a suspect injured in the arson attack on opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) aligned TV station Raajje TV was being treated at the MNDF military hospital.

On October 7, a group of masked men armed with machetes, iron rods and petrol stabbed a security guard, forced open a reinforced door and set fire to the station, destroying its offices and control room as well as cameras, computer systems, broadcasting and transmission equipment.

CCTV footage of the attack showed the masked individual lighting the blaze briefly engulfed in flame, shortly before a fireball blew the door off its hinges.

The MNDF statement said the military hospital treated three firemen who were injured while trying to control the blaze.

”Two of the firemen were treated for burn injuries they received to the skin area near their ear, due to strong heat from the fire,” the MNDF statement said. ”The third fireman was treated for the injuries he received from the strong heat and smoke.”

The MNDF said the third fireman was admitted to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) after he had breathing problems.

The MNDF also said it was very uncivilised to spread such news without clarification. The statement did not state to whom it was referring to.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the arson attack and criticised the Maldives Police Services’ failure to defend the station despite repeated requests for police protection.

“This criminal act is a direct blow to freedom of information and we deplore the attitude of the police, who failed to do what was necessary to prevent the attack although the head of TV station requested protection a few hours before it took place,” RSF said in a statement on Monday.

Meanwhile, Raajje TV quoted former president Mohamed Nasheed as alleging that Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb “had a hand” in the arson attack on the station, and called on investigation authorities to obtain a court warrant to gain access to the former’s text messages and phone calls.

Adheeb dismissed the allegations as false.

”I won’t be surprised even if he made bigger allegations,” he said. ”Nasheed is always lying like that.”

Adheeb accused Nasheed of working against him due to his condemnation of the MDP’s calls for a tourism boycott.

Eyewitness to Monday’s attack told Minivan News that the attackers arrived on motorbikes.

”First one motorbike with two persons came, they were covering their faces with masks and one of them were holding an iron bar. We first thought they were getting ready to attack a person but the guy holding the iron bar smashed the glass of the building and the other bikes arrived just as the guy smashed the glass,” said a witness.

”There were three wave motorbikes and one PCX motorbike. The other guys were wearing masks when they arrived, they looked very calm when they entered the place and we did not see what happened inside but we noticed that they were in a rush when they came out of the building,” he said. ”They all left the area on the bikes really fast.”

According to the eyewitness, he saw the bikes coming out to Boduthakurufaanu Magu from Kurangi Goalhi and when they left they went straight towards Henveiru from Boduthakurufaanu Magu.

Speaking at the parliament’s government oversight committee, Raajje TV CEO Akram Kamaluddeen alleged to MPs that the arson attack on Raajje TV was a state organised crime.

Akram Kamaluddeen and Deputy CEO of Raajje TV Abdulla Yameen did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

The security guard who was taken hostage and stabbed told local press that the assailants arrived 10 minutes after the staff of Raajje TV had left the station.

The Bangladeshi national guard told the papers that he was inside the building when the assailants came and they asked him to lead them to the floor Raajje TV was on, but when he refused they tied his hand and took him upstairs with them.

He told the papers that he was stabbed and attacked inside the control room of the Raajje TV station, and that after attacking him they left him inside the burning building with his hands tied.

According to the security guard he was able to escape because the group left the door open. He said he came outside and called his supervisor, before fainting and being admitted to IGMH.

CCTV footage of the attack:


MNDF military hospital to provide medical services to immigration department

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) military hospital is to begin to provide medical services to employees of the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Defence Minister Colonel Mohamed Nazim was quoted in local media as saying that all services of the military hospital are now available under Aasandha to the employees of the immigration department.

“Employees of Immigration Department and their families can obtain medical treatment under Aasandha from the military hospital. This includes their husbands and wives. We are trying to provide the best medical services to our employees,” he told Sun Online.

The Department of Immigration and Emigration was recently transferred from the under the Ministry of Home Affairs to the Ministry of Defence.

According to the President’s Office, the decision to transfer the department was taken to make administration of the country’s immigration system more efficient.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) last week questioned the legality of the decision to transfer control of the Department of Immigration and Emigration to the Defence Ministry.


‘SenaHiya’ Military Hospital officially opened by Indian Defense Minister

The ‘SenaHiya’ Military Hospital in Male’ was officially opened today at a ceremony inaugurated by Indian Defence Minister Shri A.K. Anthony.

Speaking at the ceremony, Anthony stated that the hospital was proof of the strong bond that exists between the two countries, adding that medical staff from the Indian Military would be permanently based on the newly opened site.

During his speech, Anthony spoke of the possibilities for the two countries to extend their existing defence collaboration in order to strengthen naval security and drug trafficking prevention.

Calling the construction of the hospital Anthony’s ‘dream project’, Minister of Defense and National Security Mohamed Nazim thanked the Indian defence minister for his role in getting the project completed.

“India and the Maldives share the same views and policies on a number of issues. India is also extending assistance in the areas of protecting the Maldives Exclusive Economic Zone and intelligence information,” Nazim said.

Although the official opening ceremony was held today, MNDF officials have said that the ‘SenaHiya’ Hospital has been in service since late 2010.

Speaking to Minivan News, MNDF Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem said that ever since the military had moved to the new building in Henveiru in Male’, it had been providing medical services for its officers.

“With the help of the Indian government in 2011, we gradually improved the services to that of a hospital. We have been providing hospital-quality services to security forces and their families since the beginning of the year,” he said.

Colonel Raheem added that the hospital presently provided services to MNDF and police officers, along with their families, while efforts were also being made to begin offering services to Immigration and Customs officers at the site at a later date.  Public services are also expected to be offered, according to the MNDF.

Minister Anthony’s current visit is said to have resulted from an invitation from his Maldivian counterpart, who requested he open the SenaHiya Military Hospital and also lay the foundation of the new MNDF training academy.

The ceremony came after a week in which the international media has played up the rapidly expanding relations between the Maldives and China, drawing attention to the potential geopolitical implications for neighbouring India.