Maldivian Home minister Umar Naseer rejected claims today that the second assassination attempt on the president which involves a Sri Lankan sniper is unfounded, and insisted that the case is very solid, Haveeru Online reported.
Confirming the arrest of the Sri Lankan sniper for the first time, police said in a statement in November that the 27-year-old man was arrested on October 24. He has been remanded by the Criminal Court. Earlier The Sunday Times had identified the man as 24-year-old Lahiru Madhushanka.
In the latest blow to the case, police announced Sunday that three people arrested for allegedly hiring the Sri Lankan sniper have been released. A police spokesperson said the the three men arrested on December 17 were released by the Criminal Court for lack of evidence.
Home minister Umar Naseer told reporters on Thursday that investigators have a very solid case concerning the sniper. “Either way, it was an assassination attempt on the president,” he said.
Reports of the Sri Lankan sniper’s arrest came a day after Maldivian security forces confiscated assault rifles and hand guns in what has been the biggest weapons bust in the country’s history. The weapons had been seized from Hibilhadhoo island in Baa Atoll being developed as a resort.
The army had confirmed that two assault rifles found in the weapons bust belonged to the state armoury. The items showcased during a press conference included several hand guns, a T56 assault rifle and a MP5 sub-machine gun. In addition, a large quantity of bomb making material were also displayed at the press briefing.
The Sri Lankan sniper’s arrest affected the relations between the Maldives and Sri Lanka, which accused the Maldives of using historically warm bilateral ties to crackdown on Maldivian political and social media activists.
In a statement, Sri Lanka’s external affairs ministry had said Sri Lanka is deeply concerned about recent developments in the Maldives and events that have impacted on Sri Lanka, including the arrest of two Sri Lankan nationals in the Maldives and the questionable removal of a Maldivian social media activist who was in possession of a valid Sri Lankan visa. It is deeply disturbing that Sri Lanka, a country which has always maintained the closest friendly relations with the Maldives, is being used to initiate questionable action against political and social media activists, it added.
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