The former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, has been injured in a bomb blast in the island nation’s capital, Male.
The explosion happened just before a nightly Covid-19 curfew was due to begin.
Supporters from the governing Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said the explosion happened as he was about to get into a car outside his home on Thursday.
Initial reports suggested an explosive device had been fastened to a motorbike that was parked nearby.
Nasheed was the first democratically elected president of the Maldives, winning multi-party elections in 2008 but was ousted in a coup four years later.
Nasheed, 53, is currently serving as the speaker in parliament which is the Indian Ocean nation’s second-most powerful position.
“Following an explosion, the speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed has sustained injuries and is currently receiving treatment,” a police statement said.
The hospital treating Nasheed said he had suffered multiple injuries but was in a stable condition. Several other people are reported to have been injured.
Ali Azim, an MP from the MDP, told the BBC the explosion appeared to be “a targeted attack against Nasheed”. However, no one has claimed the attack and there are no reports of arrests.
Supporters of Nasheed have gathered outside the hospital where he is being treated. The situation is reported to be tense and police with riot gear have been deployed.
The BBC comments that for many people the Maldives is a dream tourist destination with turquoise water and sandy beaches, but most Western tourists do not go beyond their hedonistic holiday resorts.
This Indian Ocean archipelago is an Islamic country where its residents follow Islamic traditions and beliefs. In some of the distant islands and atolls, some people are conservative or even radicalised. The authorities blame foreign hard-line preachers for the radicalisation.
The Maldivian security agencies say dozens of jihadists from the Maldives went to Syria to fight on behalf of the Islamic State group and other extremist organisations. After the war ended in Syria, many of the survivors returned.
Nasheed is not only a pro-democracy icon, but also someone who doesn’t hesitate to talk against religious radicals.
With so many foreigners visiting the country – bringing much-needed tourist dollars – they do not want any jihadist attacks attracting international headlines.