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Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Escapes Unhurt After Explosion on His Boat

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An explosion aboard a speedboat carrying the President of the Maldives left three people — including his wife — injured on Monday, although the President managed to escape unhurt.

A bodyguard and an aide of President Abdulla Yameen’s entourage also suffered injuries from the blast, which took place as the boat was docking at the Indian Ocean archipelago’s capital city, Male, Reuters reported.

The cause of the blast is not yet known, though Yameen had previously received threats from militants aligning themselves with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

“The President is unhurt, but the First Lady was slightly injured,” Mohamed Hussain Shareef, a minister at the President’s office, told Reuters. “We don’t know if the explosion was from explosives or the inboard engine.”

Ahmed Hahmdoon, a local journalist who was among a cluster of reporters awaiting the President’s arrival from a trip to the Saudi Arabian holy city of Mecca, told the Guardian that he heard the blast right after the boat reached the jetty.

“The right door of the boat fell on the jetty and there was heavy smoke. People were screaming,” Hahmdoon said.

Yameen, 56, has been President of the small island nation since 2013, when he defeated its first democratically elected President, Mohamed Nasheed, at the ballot box. Nasheed was subsequently imprisoned on terrorism charges in February this year — a move that has led to backlash against Yameen from the international community and, along with a perceived crackdown on dissent, has negatively impacted a country mainly known for being a tourist paradise.

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Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com