COLOMBO — Police in the Maldives arrested at least 55 anti-government protesters Friday following violent clashes with security forces in the capital Male.
Nine officers were injured in the violence, which police spokesman Hassan Haneef said was instigated by supporters of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of former president Mohamed Nasheed.
Speaking to AFP by telephone from Male, Haneef said the protesters had set fire to a police motorcycle, damaged a police car and smashed shop windows.
The allegations were denied by MDP spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor who said the police had used "brutal force" to break up what had been a peaceful demonstration.
There have been constant protests in Male since Nasheed stepped down in February. He later claimed that he was forced out in what amounted to a military coup.
Nasheed was succeeded as head of the Indian Ocean archipelago of 330,000 Sunni Muslims by his former deputy, Mohamed Waheed, who has since rejected demands by the European Union and United States for early presidential elections.
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