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    Gang Wars on the Streets of Maldives

    CountriesMaldivesGang Wars on the Streets of Maldives
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    Gang Wars on the Streets of Maldives

    The gang wars on the islands is not something new. A 2012 report by the Asia Foundation and the Maldives Institute for Psychological Services said that gang violence in the Maldives is becoming increasingly commonplace.

    A series of violent altercations on the streets of Male and in the suburban Hulhumale island over the weekend have raised concerns in the Maldives police.

    The police have attributed the violence to a gang war between rival gangs. The Sun newspaper quoted police chief spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Shifan, who said that the recent fights took place between two criminal groups. He told the newspaper that the police were investigating the case, and were also implementing measures to ensure no further violence breaks out.

    Happening in broad daylight in the heart of the capital city, minutes away from the country’s Majlis, the altercations have resulted in many injuries to people and police have rounded off at least four suspects who were remanded to state custody on Sunday, pending the outcome of their trial by the Criminal Court.

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    Two people, including a police officer, were injured in the incident in Hulhumale’ island. The suspected assailant had run his car over them before fleeing the scene.

    The gang wars have been a troublesome aspect of policing in the atoll nation and police say they have received reports of over 300 cases of assault in this year alone.

    Cracking down on gang crime is a key areas of focus in the police strategic action plan for the next five years. Commissioner of Police Ali Shujau said his force was especially focussing on arresting the surge of young people the gangs were attracting.

    The gang wars on the islands is not something new. A 2012 report by the Asia Foundation and the Maldives Institute for Psychological Services said that “Gang violence in the Maldives is becoming increasingly commonplace and the nature of violence more brutal as new types of drugs and weapons are used. There are reportedly between 20 and 30 different gangs operating in Male’ with 50 to400 members in each group.”

    The report said that the causes of gang violence could not be readily distinguished from broader social problems of the time. “A widespread breakdown in family structures has begun to lead young people to look for new ways of belonging in an effort to replace the security and structure of a family,” the report said, adding, “young people often turn to drugs to get away from their family problems, which contributes to their ending up in a gang.”

    According to the report, the most common type of gang is exclusively male, with high rates of drug abuse, unemployment and a high percentage of members with a criminal record. “More often than not the gang is willing to receive money to carry out violent crimes on behalf of politicians or business people.”

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