Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed returned to his atoll nation unannounced Monday, five months after surviving a bomb attack and undergoing treatment in Germany. The 54-year-old pro-democracy pioneer was welcomed by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at the Male international airport before being driven away under heavy armed escort. “People were taken by surprise to see him arrive today,” a Maldivian official close to Nasheed told AFP. “The return was not announced in advance due to security considerations.” Nasheed, currently the speaker of parliament, was critically wounded in a May 7 assassination attempt outside his home in the capital Male. He underwent 16 hours of surgery before travelling to Germany in May for further treatment and rehabilitation. There has been no claim of responsibility but Nasheed’s party has blamed religious extremists in the tiny Islamic republic, which practices a liberal form of the religion and is known for its upmarket tourism. Maldivian authorities have arrested six people, all locals, in connection with the attack that rocked the largely peaceful nation of 340,000 Sunni Muslims. The government has cracked down on extremism and foreign preachers are banned. Violent attacks are rare, though a dozen foreign tourists were wounded by a bomb blast in Male in 2007.