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Maldives president's speedboat blows up coming back from hajj

MALE, Maldives - Police in the Maldives said they were seeking help from the United States and Australia in the investigation into a blast Monday on President Yameen Abdul Gayoom's speedboat as he returned home after preforming hajj in Saudi Arabia.

Gayoom escaped unhurt from the blast, but his wife, an aide and a bodyguard were injured.

Police official Hamdhoon Raseed told reporters that authorities had asked for help from the U.S. and Australia as they conduct an investigation into the blast. He did not elaborate.

The Maldives, known for its luxurious island resorts, has been rocked by political infighting and disputed elections in recent years, but it is not known for serious political violence such as bomb attacks.

Cabinet Minister Mohamed Shareef said the blast occurred Monday morning as the boat reached the main jetty in the capital of Male. Gayoom's wife, Fathimath Ibrahim, and an aide suffered minor injuries, while a bodyguard sustained more serious injuries, he said.

Shareef said the cause of the blast, thought to have happened in the engine room, was not known. Boating accidents and fires are common in the Indian Ocean archipelago state.

"We are not ruling out anything, whether it is an accident or an attempt on the president's life," Shareef said, adding that investigators were inspecting the boat and watching video of the blast.

Gayoom left the hospital in the afternoon after being monitored for several hours, while his wife remained hospitalized with a back injury.

The country's international airport is on a separate island and a short boat trip is needed to reach the capital island.

Ahmed Hamdhoon, a local journalist who was on the jetty to cover Gayoom's arrival, said he heard a huge blast as soon as the boat docked.

"The right door of the boat fell on the jetty and there was heavy smoke. People were screaming," he said.

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