Maldives Police Service (MPS) declared on Wednesday night that the February attack on foreigners in the suburb of Hulhumalé was as an act of revenge carried out by terrorists.
Masked assailants on motorcycles assaulted the victims, two Chinese nationals and an Australian, with knives near the Hulhumale' Redbull Park Futsal Ground on February 4.
Speaking at the press briefing, Assistant Commissioner of Police Mohamed Riyaz confirmed that investigations into the stabbings revealed that the act was carried out in retaliation against authorities over the counter-terrorism operation "Asseyri", conducted in Maduvvari in December 2019.
The operation was led by a joint force including the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), police, and the Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services, to apprehend individuals who were committing crimes in the name of extremism and to protect the rights of children who had fallen victim to their beliefs.
On February 6, two days after the Hulhumale' stabbings, a suspected group of extremists uploaded a video to social media taking responsibility for the attacks. A mask-clad man speaks to the camera in Dhivehi, the local language, while subtitles appear at the bottom of the video in English.
In the video, the mask-clad man accused Maldives' leaders of apostasy and deceiving the masses, snatching away the wives and children of members of their group, and declared that the act was targeted at the government as retribution.
A total of eight individuals were arrested in relation to the stabbings in Hulhumale'. However, not all of them were directly involved in the act.
"Four people actively participated in assaulting the three foreigners. The motorcycles [used in the assault] and the motorcycle license plates used for the cover-up were recovered during the investigation", Assistant Commissioner of Police stated.
Riyaz added that the electronic devices found during the raids in the homes of the accused contained information related to the attacks, and material supporting terrorism.
Noting that the investigations had concluded, Riyaz stated that the case has been forwarded to Prosecutor General's (PG) Office for the state to press charges against the suspects.