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Apr. 24 (AFP) – Sri Lankan police arrested five Maldivian nationals sparking unconfirmed rumours that the suspects were linked to Al-Qaeda, police and media reports said Monday. The five — two women, two children and a man — were taken into custody at the request of the Maldives government and handed over to the Maldivian high commission (embassy) here, police chief Chandra Fernando said.

“We acted on a request by the Maldivian authorities,” Fernando told AFP. “We have no information to suggest that the suspects are Al-Qaeda.”

The Island newspaper said the arrest of the Maldivians at Sri Lanka’s only international airport triggered speculation that the suspects belonged to the Al-Qaeda movement of Osama bin Laden.

Maldivian dissidents based in Colombo charged that the Male government is using the Sri Lankan police to crack down against political opponents and journalists.
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In December, Sri Lanka’s police raided a Maldivian radio operating in exile in Colombo following an Interpol report that it was involved in gun-running.

Police dropped the case after finding no evidence to support the report originated by the Maldivian police.

– Amal Jayasin

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