Five held over attempt to kill Maldives president: police

COLOMBO, Jan 9, 2008 (AFP) – Police in the Maldives said Wednesday they arrested four more people in connection with an unsuccessful attempt to kill the Indian Ocean archipelago’s president.

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who has ruled Maldives with an iron fist since 1978, escaped assassination while touring the atoll’s northern islands on Tuesday thanks to a teenage boy scout who wrestled back a knife-wielding attacker.

“The attacker is being questioned. We don’t know the exact motive yet, but four more people were also arrested in connection with this attack,” police spokesman Sergeant Ahmed Shiyam told AFP by telephone from the capital Male.

Local media reported that two of those arrested were former classmates of Mohamed Murshid, 20, who tried to stab Gayoom with a kitchen knife while he shook hands with residents at Hoarafushi Island.

The 15-year-old scout, Mohamed Jaisham Ibrahim, who grabbed the knife, cutting his hand, was brought into Male for further medical treatment late Tuesday amidst cheers from residents who turned up at the jetty to greet him.

Murshid had shouted ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is greater) before lunging at the president.

Gayoom said in a nationwide