Pro-opposition TV channel attacked, torched in Maldives
Male: A pro-opposition news channel in the Maldives was today attacked and set afire by a group of heavily-armed unidentified persons ahead of Supreme Court`s crucial verdict on suspended presidential elections.
At least six masked men armed with iron rods, petrol cans and sharp-edged weapons stormed offices of the Raajje television network, which backs the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party led by Mohammed Nasheed, and set afire the seven-story building after assaulting an unarmed guard.
The attack, which took place at about 4.45 am (local time), came as the Supreme Court is expected to rule later in the day whether to annul the first round of Presidential elections, reported web portal Minivan News.
Jumhooree Party candidate Gasim Ibrahim who had filed a litigation in the Supreme Court alleging irregularities in the elections condemned the attack.
In a message on social networking site twitter, he said," Strongly condemn the arson attack on RajjeTV and Computer Plus. I urge to carryout a SWIFT investigation to bring the terrorists to justice."
Former president Nasheed who led the first round of elections also condemned the attack and asked the channel not to worry and start operations again.
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, another former president, said on twitter, "I said it before n I say it again: no to violence, no to rioting, no to arson. Yes to democracy, yes to rule of law, yes to peace."
The incident took place shortly after reporters had left the building following live coverage of Maldivian Democratic Party`s protest against suspension of second round of presidential elections by the Supreme Court, the report said.
News daily Haveeru quoted officials of the station saying that all broadcast and transmission equipment along with computer systems had been fully burnt and destroyed.
The damage was to be over a million US dollar and the station was trying to set up at another location and will be on air soon, station`s owner Akram Kamaludeen was quoted as saying by Haveeru.
The CEO of the channel Yamin Rasheed claimed the station had received threats of such an attack being planned in the evening yesterday which were sent to police seeking protection.
"(The report) was very suspicious, and did not look like a joke. I wrote a letter to police asking for security and requested them to protect us from this attack. But there was no response," Rasheed alleged.
The second round of the presidential run-off between Nasheed and Abdulla Yameen of Progressive Party of Maldives was scheduled on September 28 but it was indefinitely postponded by the apex court which is hearing allegations of irregularity in the September 7 polls.
International community, including India, has asked for ensuring the resumption of the political process in a manner that respects the will of the Maldivian people.
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