Defense Minister: Surprise attack on Maldives now will be ‘very difficult’

Maldives National Defense Force's (MNDF) Chief of Defense Force, Major General Abdulla Shamaal (R) and Defense Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi (L). (Sun Photo/Muzayyin Nazim)

Defense Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi said on Wednesday that it will be difficult to launch a surprise attack on Maldives, such as the one launched by armed mercenaries on November 3, 1988, ever again. 

In an interview to RajjeTV’s Fashaa Iru show on occasion of Victory Day on Wednesday morning, Mariya said the Maldivian military has made great advances in the 33 years since the attack. 

“It will be very difficult. Because the threat environment is completely different now. The world is at constant alert over transnational terrorism,” she said. 

Mariya noted that the exchange of information between countries has increased since the 9/11 attacks on United States in 2001, and that the Coastguard can now track vessels. 

“And if the tracking devises are offline, they can check the location through satellite imagery. Furthermore, there are radars up and running in 10 locations across Maldives,” she said. 

Mariya said the radar system covers the 10 main channels in and out of Maldives, and that there is an MNDF officer stationed at the maritime fusion center in India – the biggest in the region. She said that the MNDF officer stationed at the center relays all maritime incidents in the region to the Coastguard in real time. 

“Therefore, given all this, a surprise attack such as that will be difficult now,” she said. 

Mariya said that military bases have been established across Maldives in order to improve military capabilities, and that there are soldiers undergoing training in Maldives and overseas at any given time. 

The foiled attack of November 3, 1988 with armed mercenaries from Tamil secessionist organization People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) to overthrow former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration killed 19 Maldivian citizens - eight officers and 11 civilians - and left scores more injured.   

The mercenaries were pushed back by Maldivian soldiers, and those who fled with hostages were captures with the assistance from India.