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Islamists kill kidnapped journalist in Maldives: commission

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — A kidnapped journalist has been killed by Islamic militants, a commission investigating killings and enforced disappearances said in remarks critical of former President Abdullahi Yemin.

Journalist Ahmad Rilwan, who works for the Maldive Independent newspaper and was writing about corruption and Islamic militancy, was abducted in August 2014, a year after Yemin was elected.

Journalists and human rights groups in the Maldives say that Rilwan’s criticism of the government and Islamic extremism may be the reason for his targeting.

Hassan al-Saoud, head of the Presidential Commission for the Investigation of Murder and Enforced Disappearance, said the commission had received testimonies from those directly involved in the killing of Rilwan.

“Rilwan was killed by Islamic militants linked to foreign jihadist groups who had threatened him on several occasions earlier,” he told reporters in the capital, Mali, late on Sunday.

He said Rilwan was killed at sea after his abduction, but gave no further details, saying disclosure could delay the investigation.

He said militant groups from the Maldives, linked to the civil war in Syria, saw Rilwan as a threat to recruiting fighters.

The commission, set up by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solh in November after defeating Yammine, found the former president sought to divert the investigation into the kidnapping of Rilwan.

But the boarding said there was no evidence to charge Leimen in connection with the kidnapping or murder of the journalist.

Mohamed Sharif, a member of his right-wing National Congress Party, said the committee’s comments were politically motivated.

Activists have complained of a crackdown on dissidents under the right-wing government following the kidnapping of Rilwan and the murder of blogger Yamin Rashid in 2017. Rashid also criticized Islamist militancy and corruption.

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