Three-month old Maldivian baby dies in Syria

Media sources have reported that a three-month old Maldivian baby has died in Syria after being taken their with her parents.

According to reports, the baby died as a result of respiratory difficulties around one week ago due to lack of adequate healthcare.

It was also reported that, after the child had fallen ill, the mother attempted to travel back to the Maldives but was prevented from contacting relatives due to the lack of cooperation from her husband and other jihadists.

Her parents are said to have travelled to Syria for jihad around two months ago, crossing into the country from Turkey.

Maldives Police Service media officials stated that the they had not yet received any information about the case.

Earlier this week, Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed called it a cause of concern that Maldivian nationals are leaving the country to fight in wars abroad.

In a police function held on February 2, the Commissioner said it is necessary for all police officers to work together in order stop Maldivians joining wars abroad, instructing the intelligence department to immediately take preventative measures if the service receives any information regarding such a case.

Since the first reports of Maldivians travelling to ISIS-held territories for jihad were received last year, a steady stream of recruits have left the country, including couples and entire families.

The exact number of Maldivians abroad for jihad remains unclear, with Haveeru reporting a group of six having departed last week, as well as a dozen more said to have gone to Syria at the start of January.

Commissioner Waheed has previously estimated that around 50 Maldivians are working with foreign rebel groups, dwarfing figures suggested by Home Minister Umar Naseer in December.

Despite assurances that the activities of radicals are being monitored, the group said to have left in early January included a number of individuals known to police.

They included Azlif Rauf – a suspect in the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali, and an individual arrested over the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

Last month, four would-be jihadis were apprehended in Malaysia, with media reporting that they were brought back to the Maldives and released after the authorities seized their passports. A similar group were returned from Sri Lanka in November.

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