The coconut, described as "young", was found near a school that will be used as a polling station on Saturday on the remote Kaafu atoll, one of the hundreds of islands that comprise the Indian Ocean archipelago state.

Though the population of the Maldives is Sunni Muslim, continuing belief in magic is widespread in rural areas. Coconuts are often used in rituals and inscribed with spells.

The hundreds of thousands of international tourists who travel to the Maldives usually stay in isolated resorts and have no contact with local people other than staff.

The local Minivan news website reported that police "took the coconut into their possession" around 7.05am on Tuesday, after they received a complaint about the suspicious fruit near the school on the Guraidhoo Island, which lies 130 miles from the capital, Male, and has a population of around 2,000.