Three dead in Maldives prison riot

Maldives President Maumoon Adb al-Gayoom has vowed to take action as the toll mounts in a prison riot which has so far left three dead.

    Trouble in paradise?

    On Monday, an inmate flown to Colombo died from gunshot wounds, doctors said.

    According to airport officials a chartered aircraft brought nine more wounded men to the Sri Lankan capital, also on Monday.

    It was not immediately clear if all the victims were convicts or if there were security personnel among them.

    The earlier killing of two inmates triggered public violence on Saturday in the Maldives, a major tourist destination that is not familiar with such civil unrest.

    President Gayoom has pledged to prosecute those behind the rampage in Male, the 1.6 km long low-lying coral island protected by a wall of concrete tetra pods.

    Police arrests

    Local residents said that the police had begun rounding up suspected members of the mobs that torched the high court, the elections office and several police vehicles in Male.

    Maldives Information Minister Ibrahim Manikku said he could not confirm reports of arrests. Residents said life returned to normal with schools reopening and offices functioning as usual.

    "I have no information about arrests, but naturally there will be a police inquiry," Manikku told AFP by telephone. "We can't keep quiet."

    Manikku insisted the violence was unrelated to the re-election bid of Gayoom, who is set to win a sixth five-year term in November in the archipelago of 1,192 coral islands with a population of 250,000 Sunni Muslims.

    Mobs attacked and burned the two-storey elections building a day after elections commissioner announced that Gayoom would run against four other candidates. Gayoom is considered almost certain to win.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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