image captionSupporters say former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed is in hospital receiving treatment

The former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, has been injured in a suspected bomb blast in the capital, Male.

Supporters from the governing Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said the blast happened as he was about to get into a car outside his home on Thursday.

Initial reports suggested an explosive device had been fastened to a motorbike that was parked nearby.

Several other people are reported to have been injured in the incident.

Mr Nasheed, 53, is currently serving as the speaker in parliament which is the Indian Ocean nation’s second-most powerful position.

“Following an explosion… [the] Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed has sustained injuries and is currently receiving treatment,” a police statement said.

The hospital treating Mr Nasheed said he had suffered multiple injuries but was in a stable condition.

In a tweet, the current president of the Maldives, Ibu Solih, said police had launched an investigation into the explosion.

The foreign minister, Abdullah Shahid, strongly condemned the blast saying cowardly attacks like these had no place in Maldivian society.

Supporters of Mr Nasheed have gathered outside the hospital where he is being treated. The situation is reported to be tense and police with riot gear have been deployed.

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image captionPolice have secured the site of the suspected bomb blast that injured the former president

image captionMr Nasheed, 53, is currently serving as the speaker in parliament

Mr Nasheed became the country’s first democratically elected president after winning multi-party elections in 2008.

He was toppled in a coup in 2012 and was unable to contest the 2018 presidential elections after he was convicted of criminal charges.

However, he returned to the country from self-imposed exile after his party won the 2018 presidential elections and then entered parliament.

He has been an outspoken critic of hardline Islamists in the Maldives, where the Islamic State group (IS) has carried out attacks.

The Maldives is a largely Sunni Muslim nation made up of 1,192 individual islands south-west of the Indian sub-continent. It is renowned as a holiday destination for its beaches and luxury resorts.

Its political history has been unsettled since the electoral defeat of long-serving President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 2008 ended decades of autocratic rule.