A Sri Lankan sniper arrested in Maldives was hired and brought into the country as part of a plot to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, the Maldives police announced, according to Haveeru Online.Confirming the arrest for the first time, police said in a statement that the 27-year-old man was arrested on October 24. He has been remanded by the Criminal Court for 15 days, the police added. “We can confirm that these weapons would be used in a general attack or utilised to launch an attack on particular individuals,” Ihsan said, during the press conference held a few minutes before the declaration of state of emergency on Wednesday. The police, however, did not reveal any further details. Haveeru first reported the Sri Lankan sniper’s arrest last week. Reports of the Sri Lankan sniper’s arrest came a day after Maldivian security forces confiscated assault rifles and hand guns in what has been the biggest weapons bust in the country’s history. The weapons had been seized from Hibilhadhoo island in Baa Atoll being developed as a resort.The army had confirmed that two assault rifles found in the weapons bust belonged to the state armoury. The items showcased during a press conference last week included several hand guns, a T56 assault rifle and a MP5 sub-machine gun. In addition, a large quantity of bomb making material were also displayed at the press briefing.Security forces cautioned the public Wednesday to be wary of more illegal weapons on the loose.At a joint press conference with the police, Captain Ali Ihsan from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) said there was credible intelligence to suggest some people were in possession of more weapons. Those weapons had the potential of endangering the lives of the people, he warned. Maldivian authorities, however, neither confirmed nor denied the arrest at the time. Assistant police commissioner Abdulla Nawaz assured that every effort was being made to find those weapons. He asked the public to notify the police of any information that could lead to the discovery of those weapons.The joint warning by the armed forces and the police came a few minutes before the Maldives declared a month-long state of emergency in what has been extraordinary security measures following an explosion on a speedboat carrying the president and subsequent discovery of an arms haul.In the declaration of emergency, which was read out to journalists at the President’s Office by Attorney General Mohamed Anil, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom said he had reached the decision after consultations with his national security council. Several explosive devices have been discovered in two separate operations carried out by the army and there is credible intelligence of an imminent attack using explosives and weapons, he added. Such an attack would endanger the lives of the public, the president said.The declaration of emergency came a day after security forces discovered an explosive device near the presidential palace.Maldives military had confirmed that the suspected device found in a vehicle parked near the presidential residence of Muliaage in capital Male was an improvised explosive device which had been subsequently been diffused.The discovery of the IED came just over a month after an explosion aboard the presidential speedboat carrying President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom now confirmed as an attempt to kill the president.President Yameen was unhurt but his spouse and two others were hurt in the explosion.The primary suspect in the blast appears to be former Vice President Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor who was arrested on October 24 as soon as he arrived from an official trip to China.He is accused of high treason, a charge he denies. The government has intensified its crackdown on the former vice president and his associates.Before and since the former vice president’s arrest, police jointly with armed soldiers have been carrying out raids across capital Male. Most of the houses and offices searched so far had direct links to the former vice president.Parliament, meanwhile, voted unanimously Thursday to impeach Adheeb. (Colombo Gazette)
“We must not allow ourselves to become inured to the ongoing allegations of the use of chemical weapons. This is an issue about which the United Nations cannot be neutral,” Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said in her first briefing to the Security Council since her appointment. Citing initial findings from the fact-finding mission by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), she emphasized that the use of chemical weapons by any actor – whether Government forces, terrorist factions or armed opposition groups – could never be justified, regardless of provocation or circumstance.“Their re-emergence is indefensible and cannot be viewed as anything other than a violation of the most basic international law and a serious deviation from the internationally agreed broader path towards the goal of a world free of chemical weapons,” she said. “As such, this is not an issue to be politicized.” She said OPCW has deployed a fact-finding mission on two occasions following allegations of chemical weapons use on that date in the area of Um Hosh, in the Aleppo countryside. Members of the mission have conducted interviews, collected testimonies and reviewed documents, as well as information provided by the Syrian authorities, she added. While the prevailing security situation has prevented the team from visiting the site of the alleged incident, she continued, it has been able to review analyses of blood samples from two female casualties reported to have been involved in the attack.They were found to have suffered exposure to sulfur mustard, as was a mortar handed over to the team by the Russian Federation’s Chemical, Biological, Nuclear and Radiological Team.RELATED: As US responds militarily to chemical attack, UN urges restraint to avoid escalationRegarding the reported incident in Khan Shaykhoun on 4 April – she said that, after a preliminary assessment, a fact-finding mission was deployed to a neighbouring country, where it conducted interviews and witnessed the collection of biomedical samples from the alleged incident. The analysis of samples showed exposure to sarin or a sarin-like substance.It has also received biological-environmental samples from dead animals reported to have been close to the suspected impact point, attended the autopsies of three alleged victims, and witnessed the extraction of biomedical samples from their bodies. She, however, emphasized that all materials and information collected were currently being analyzed, thus not final. On the situation relating to the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons production facilities remained unchanged, she said that OPCW has verified the destruction of 24 of the 27 declared facilities, but the prevailing security situation continues to preclude safe access to the three remaining sites.