Police arrested 13 people after clashing with demonstrators at the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s ongoing protest early on Wednesday morning.
The MDP accused police of vandalising the MDP’s protest camp near the tsunami monument and attacking the party’s supporters at 2:45am in the morning.
However police have said they were pursuing a a group of young people on motorcycles who had attacked police buildings that evening, before retreating to the MDP camp
An MDP supporter who witnessed the incident told Minivan News that the police arrived after a group of young people opened a ‘Youth Jagaha’ near the tsunami monument, and then left on motorcycles to ride around the streets.
“They apparently vandalised some police stations during the motorbike ride, and then the police came and attacked the protest camp,’’ he said. ‘’Police destroyed our podium in the area and the sound system, as well as chairs and other property,’’ he claimed.
One young person was thrown into the sea wall and was subsequently taken to hospital.
Police said a group of men armed with knives vandalised police stations in Male’, threatening officers in the traffic police station with knives and destroying a computer monitor. The group also threatened officers inside the Police Iskandhar Koshi.
Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News that police had followed the group to the area on the side of the tsunami monument park furthest from the MDP camp, near the army medical centre, where they had been attacked.
“Police called for backup and by the time the pickup arrived, people were there with stones,” Shiyam said. “When police entered the [camp] to arrest the suspects forcefully, everyone in the area became hostile to police. There was a huge confrontation,” he added.
Several police officers sustained injuries, none serious, he said. Police arrested 13 people and withdrew from the area.
“This was a very serious thing and we are sad that it happened,” Shiyam said. “We have no interest in doing anything [to the MDP camp], and we don’t want to have a confrontation. But people are coming out of the area, committing acts of violence, and going back there to hide, which is not something to be accepted.”
Police had asked organisers of the protest to take responsibility for the actions of those gathered there, he added.
MDP supporters have held an ongoing protest near the tsunami monument, dubbing it ‘justice square’, following the resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed in what they contend was a coup d’état.
MDP supporters have been sleeping and gathering in the area since Nasheed’s resignation, reportedly under duress.
The party has meanwhile released pictures of injured protesters and vandalism of the square.