Maldives police use tear gas as protesters clash

May 3, 2011 (AFP) – Maldives police on Tuesday used tear gas and batons to break up an anti-establishment protest after a third night of clashes between government and opposition activists turned violent. Police spokesman Ahmed Shiyam said at least six people were arrested after activists started fires on Monday night along the cobbled streets, damaging state and private buildings in the densely populated capital, Male.

Several homes of opposition parliamentarians and senior members were also damaged by the unruly crowds, police said.

Thousands of protesters led by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party took to the streets demanding the resignation of President Mohammed Nasheed for failing to ease their economic plight.

Eyewitnesses said clashes erupted after government supporters hurled stones at around 2,000 opposition protesters led by several parliamentarians.

Police said both sides then threw stones and bottles at each other, forcing them to use tear gas to disperse the unruly crowd.

It was not immediately known how many people were injured, but opposition spokesman Mohammed Shareef told AFP by telephone that a number of women were hurt.

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