Maldives police have arrested three suspected Islamic extremists over the stabbing of three foreigners in the upmarket tourist destination.
Two Chinese men and an Australian were in a stable condition after being stabbed Tuesday, just two months after security officials warned of the presence of violent radicals inspired by ISIS.
Authorities said they were investigating a video released on social media claiming the attack had been carried out by a local group sympathetic to the terror group.
‘The Maldives police service has arrested three suspects under a court warrant in relation to the stabbing of three foreign nationals,’ police said in a statement.
They were not identified.
Late last year the Maldives arrested a local man described by the United States as a recruiter for ISIS in Syria and Afghanistan.
He was also suspected of being involved in a crude bomb attack in the capital Male in September 2007 which injured a dozen tourists.
In June last year the nation of 340,000 Sunni Muslims called for international help to rehabilitate up to 160 of its nationals thought to be held in Syrian detention camps.
Maldives parliamentary Speaker Mohamed Nasheed has said that the Maldives was keeping a close watch on any attempt to radicalise its population, which practises a liberal form of Islam and relies heavily on luxury tourism.
An Australian man was rushed to hospital on moped after being stabbed in a terror attack in the Maldives.
Footage of the Australian bleeding from his shoulder on the back of a moped while being driven to get treatment in footage was filmed by a local man.
Once at the hospital, he hobbled through the emergency room doors while clutching his right shoulder.
Little is known about the Australian victim, other than he worked in Hulhumale.
One of the Chinese men also worked in the city while the other was a tourist.
On Thursday, Maldives police arrested three men and were probing their suspected links with Islamic State, officials said.
A Maldivian radical group linked to the Islamic State took responsibility for the attack in a video posted online, on Wednesday.
One masked man, speaking in the local language Dhivehi, accused the Maldivian government of being run by infidels and warned of further attacks in the clip.
‘As for what will follow (of attacks), you fail to perceive where and when it will take place’, he said in the video.
He also accused Maldivian politicians of stealing the wives and children of extremists and said the attacks were revenge for this.
Police said they were working to confirm the veracity of the video.
In a statement, Maldives Police said: ‘We are continuously monitoring the status of the victims of this heinous attack. Their condition is reported to be stable.
‘We are also establishing the validity of a video circulating on social media claiming to be related to this attack.
‘The Maldives Police Service is working closely with all relevant stakeholders in this matter and assures the public of our continued efforts to ensure the safety and security of all those in Maldives.’
Last year, a 35-year-old man identified as a leader for Islamic State in the Maldives by the U.S. authorities was arrested for allegedly leading Islamic State recruitment in the mainly Sunni Muslim nation.
The archipelago in the Indian Ocean derives much of its income from tourism.
ISIS claimed responsibility for deadly bombings in Sri Lanka in April last year, and has been looking to bolster its presence in the sub-continent after being driven out of its self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
The Maldives parliament has given sweeping investigative powers to counter-terrorism agencies, and authorities have stepped up operations against hardline Islamist groups.
The small island nation lies southwest of India and Sri Lanka and 1,000 kilometres of the Asian continent.
The 2008 constitution states that the republic ‘is based on the principles of Islam’ and that ‘no law contrary to any principle of Islam can be applied’.
Non-Muslims are prohibited from becoming citizens and the public practice of a faith other than Islam is forbidden.