May 3, 2011 (AFP) – Anti-government protesters took to the streets of the Maldives for a fourth night on Tuesday, as police baton-charged demonstrators and arrested a senior opposition activist, eyewitnesses said. Police arrested opposition member Umar Naseer on Tuesday night as he led scores of people through the narrow cobbled streets of Male, demanding the government tackle soaring consumer prices.
Eyewitnesses said Naseer was handcuffed, bundled into a truck and driven off by law enforcement authorities, as police in riot gear tried to disperse noisy demonstrators.
Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party is leading the protest, demanding incumbent Mohammed Nasheed quit over his handling of the economy and clamping down on political dissent.
“Police are chasing protesters. Some of those injured have been rushed to hospital,” opposition spokesman Mohammed Shareef told AFP by telephone. He said scores were arrested, including parliamentarians Ali Arif and Ahmed Mahloof.
“Arif and Mahloof were later released, but we have no news of Naseer’s whereabouts. Our legal team is trying to trace him,” Shareef said.
There was no immediate comment from the police.