Maldives minister says boat blast likely targeted president

The top diplomat of the Maldives has said an explosion on the boat of the island nation's leader was likely a targeted attack.

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon yesterday told The Associated Press it remained unclear who may have been behind the explosion on Monday when the boat carrying President Yameen Abdul Gayoom and his wife reached the main jetty in the capital Male as they returned from Saudi Arabia after performing hajj.

Gayoom was unhurt. His wife Fathimath Ibrahim and an aide suffered minor injuries, while a bodyguard was more seriously hurt.

Maumoon said the government has announced "it is likely that it was a targeted attack against the president, in which case it is something extremely serious and I strongly condemn it."

"It's fortunate that lives were not lost and that injuries were minor," Maumoon said in an interview on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly where she was representing the Indian Ocean nation.

Saudi Arabian investigators and FBI experts are among those involved in the multinational probe of the blast. More forensic experts from the Western Australian police as well as from India and Sri Lanka were due to join the team.

Maumoon said that an attempt on the life of the leader of the country would be unprecedented. She declined to say whether it could have been related to domestic politics or religious extremism.

"It's very difficult for me to comment as I would not like to speculate on something that we don't have enough information about," Maumoon said, but added that if it was an attack, "there are potentially many sources it could have come from."

The Maldives, known for its luxurious island resorts, has been rocked by political infighting and disputed elections in recent years, although serious political violence is rare. 

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