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Last Updated: Monday, 1 October 2007, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Ten arrested over Maldives blast
Jennifer and Christian Donelan
The injured Britons were the most seriously hurt, local authorities said
Ten suspects have been arrested in connection with a bomb blast in the Maldives which left 12 tourists injured, local police said.

Two Britons, two Japanese and eight Chinese tourists were hurt by the bomb in a park in the capital Male.

The injured British couple have been named as Christian Donelan, originally from Rotherham, and his wife Jennifer, whose maiden name is Green.

They will be airlifted to Britain for further medical treatment.

Tourism Minister Mahamood Shaugee said: "In total, police have arrested 10 suspects."

Seven of the arrested are Maldives nationals and two are Bangladeshi nationals.

Mr Shaugee said many Bangladeshi nationals work in the Maldives, but he gave no details of those detained.

'Burns and cuts'

Local media said a mobile phone and washing machine motor attached to a gas cylinder triggered the bomb - reported to have been homemade.

This is the first time a bomb has exploded in the Maldives.

It is not yet clear who was behind the attack, or what the intended target was.

The Maldives bomb going off
This is the first time a bomb has exploded in the Maldives

Mr and Mrs Donelan, aged 36 and 31, may need skin grafts after suffering burns in the blast, Mr Shaugee said.

"We are assisting the Donelans to return to Britain as soon as possible to continue with their medical treatment," he said.

Mr Donelan suffered 27 per cent burns to his lower body and limbs while his wife has 40 per cent burns to her face, hands and lower body, Maldivian officials said, quoting doctors.

The couple are currently in a privately-owned hospital in Male and the air evacuation to a specialist burns unit in Manchester is expected to take place Monday or Tuesday.

Tim Bulleyment, a friend of the couple, said an air ambulance has been booked and a spokesman for the Maldives High Commission in London confirmed that the Maldives government is paying for the repatriation.

"Everything is in place. The only thing we were waiting for was the money and now that is sorted they should be coming back to Manchester," Mr. Bulleyment said.

He added that he had spoken to Mr Donelan just after he came out of surgery. "He told me they were just lucky to be alive."

Honeymoon

The couple live in the Gulf state of Qatar and were thought to have been on their honeymoon after marrying in Italy two weeks ago.

Mr Donelan is a keen sportsman who has played hockey for Rotherham's main club. The couple have been able to speak to friends and relatives by phone.

It is thought they were staying on Baros - one of 87 designated tourist islands in the Maldives.

Mohamed Shareef, a government spokesman, said all 12 victims were in a stable condition. He said the British nationals had suffered the most serious injuries.

Police in Maldives
Police officers have been investigating the bomb site

"The Maldives has never had something like this before. We are taking this very seriously because tourism is our lifeblood," he said.

A spokeswoman for Universal Resorts, which owns hotels complexes in the Maldives, said 10 of those injured, including the Britons, were staying with them.

She said: "As far as we are aware Universal Resorts have a total of 10 guests who were injured, two of whom were UK citizens that actually live in Qatar.

"Those two guests are being taken care of in the hospital in Male and are with Universal Resorts staff.

Map of Maldives

The two other injured tourists, who were not guests of Universal Resorts, are believed to be from Japan.

A Foreign Office official is flying to the Maldives to provide consular assistance. The Foreign Office does not have staff permanently based in the Maldives.

A witness reported seeing scattered nails after the blast.

The park is in the shadow of the Maldives army headquarters and several surveillance cameras are trained on the area.

More than 600,000 tourists visited the Maldives last year, and the tourist industry is the linchpin of the country's economy.

The Muslim country has a reputation as a tranquil haven for tourists. The capital has not witnessed gunfire or explosions since an attempted coup in 1988.

However, the government has been repeatedly criticised for its handling of opposition protests.


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VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The explosion is caught on camera



SEE ALSO
Country profile: The Maldives
21 Aug 07 |  Country profiles



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