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Maldives sacks defense minister amid political tensions

Maldives president has removed the country's defense minister amid political tensions in the island nation. The move comes as authorities continue to investigate an alleged assassination attempt on the president.

President Yameen Abdul Gayoom sacked Defense Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel, the presidential spokesperson said in a tweet early on Wednesday.

The spokesperson did not provide a reason for removing the defense minister, but the move comes as the small island nation faces political turmoil following an alleged assassination attempt on the president.

A

blast on the president's speedboat on September 28

wounded Gayoom's wife, his secretary and a bodyguard. The president was unhurt in the incident.

Authorities are still investigating the explosion, but suspect an assassination attempt. Two security officials with access to the boat have been arrested.

The sacking comes only 10 months since the previous defense minister, Mohamed Nazim, was dismissed. He was later tried and convicted of arms smuggling and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

The Maldives has come under

international criticism for jailing former President Mohamed Nasheed,

the country's first democratically elected ruler, on terrorism charges. A UN panel has ruled the imprisonment was illegal.

Nasheed resigned in 2012 amid protests, but he and the opposition say he was ousted in a coup.

In July, the parliament backed the impeachment of Vice President Mohamed Jameel.

Gayoom is the half-brother of former Maldivian dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the country for three decades until 2008.

Rights groups have criticized the government for a deterioration of human rights on the island nation.

cw/kms (AFP, AP)

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