A 44-year-old Australian man working in the Maldives is recovering in hospital after he and two Chinese nationals were stabbed by suspected extremists on Tuesday night, local police have told the ABC.
- A 44-year-old Australian man as well as two Chinese nationals were stabbed in the Maldives on Tuesday night
- An expert in extremism in the Maldives says the attack appeared to be terrorism-related and could be revenge after Islamic State recruiter Muhammad Ameen was arrested last year in the Maldives
- A video by Islamic State sympathisers claiming responsibility is circulating online
Three men have since been arrested in relation to the attack, which took place on the island of Hulhumale, part of the Indian Ocean archipelago, between 7.00-8.00pm local time.
The Maldives Police Service described the attackers as “suspected extremists” and is investigating a video circulating on social media by suspected Islamic State sympathisers claiming responsibility for the attack.
“The Maldives Police Service is working closely with all relevant stakeholders in this matter,” a police statement said.
“[The police] assures the public of our continued efforts to ensure the safety and security of all those in the Maldives.”
A video published on social media shows a victim with a bloody shirt being taken to hospital on the back of a scooter.
Police told the ABC the video was of the Australian victim and described his injuries as “not serious”.
The other victims were reported to be stable.
Attack could be ‘revenge’, expert says
A predominantly Sunni Muslim nation of around 400,000 people, the Maldives is known to have contributed one of the largest number of fighters per capita in Syria.
Azim Zahir is an expert in extremism in the Maldives at the University of Western Australia.
He said the recent attack appeared to be a terrorist attack and could be revenge after Islamic State recruiter Muhammad Ameen was arrested last year in the Maldives.
“These attacks occurred concurrently,” he said.
“That gave me the suspicion it’s not an ordinary mugging case.
“Authorities recently started to crack down on terrorist activity [in the Maldives].”
He said the attack could also be an effort to disrupt the island nation’s tourism industry.
“It would really hurt the Maldivian tourism industry,” he said.
“Because the Maldives are reliant on the image of a peaceful paradise.”
A video published by local Islamic State sympathisers warned of more attacks.
In December last year, a Turkish national was also stabbed on Hulhumale Island, although Mr Zahir said it was not clear if the attacks were linked.
A spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the department was attempting to contact the man in hospital, but could not comment further for privacy reasons.