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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 January 2008, 11:56 GMT
Maldives boy 'acted on instinct'
Mohammed Jaisham Ibrahim
The injured scout is being called a national hero
A 16-year-old boy scout in the Maldives who has been hailed a hero for saving the president's life has said that he acted "out of instinct".

Mohammed Jaisham Ibrahim injured his hand while thwarting a man who tried to knife President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in the north of the islands on Monday.

"It all happened so quickly I didn't have time to think about it," he said.

The attacker lunged at the president after he had got off a boat during a visit in the north of the archipelago.

"As we were queuing up to shake hands with the president, I became aware of a man who was jostling in the crowd behind me," the teenager told the Haveeru newspaper.

"He asked me to get out of the way just as I was shaking hands with the president. He produced a large knife which he was concealing under a Maldives flag and lunged towards the president shouting 'Allah is great'.

"Fortunately I was able to fend him off with my left hand and his attempt to stab the president in the stomach was foiled."

Maldives President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom
He was very courageous and I of course met him later and thanked him
President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom

The student said the incident happened so quickly that he did not have enough time to think about the risk he was taking.

His left hand was badly cut in the incident - for which he received hospital treatment in the capital, Male, before being discharged on Wednesday.

A number of newspapers in the islands have heaped praise on him as a hero for saving the president's life and many predict he will receive some kind of public award for his actions.

"Jaisham our national hero saves the president," the Miadhu Daily said in a headline.

Islamic militancy

President Gayoom, who was unharmed in the incident, also paid tribute to the teenager who was wearing his scout uniform at the time of the attack.

"He was very courageous and I of course met him later and thanked him. It was a very good spur-of-the-moment action from the boy," he told the BBC.

The president - whose shirt was slashed in the attack - holds the honorary title of "Chief Scout of the Maldives".

Map of Maldives

The attack took place on the island of Hoarafushi, which with 3,000 residents is one of the most populated in the northern Maldives. President Gayoom was meeting supporters there after the inauguration of a renewable energy project.

Police say that four people have been arrested in connection with the attack, including the man who allegedly wielded the knife.

Correspondents say that the incident has raised concerns over the possibility of Islamic militancy in the traditionally peaceful archipelago which is predominantly Muslim.

President Gayoom is Asia's longest serving leader, elected to office in yes-or-no referendums.

In recent years he has introduced reforms which include allowing political parties, but the opposition says he is dragging his feet on change in a bid to hang on to power.



SEE ALSO
Attack on president of Maldives
08 Jan 08 |  South Asia
Maldives militant move condemned
18 Oct 07 |  South Asia
Ten arrested over Maldives blast
01 Oct 07 |  South Asia
Country profile: The Maldives
21 Aug 07 |  Country profiles

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