The Maldives police, a key player in events that led to the resignation of president Mohamed Nasheed, accused his party of fomenting "terrorism" as violence spread across the holiday resort archipelago.
In a statement posted on its website late Wednesday, the national police service confirmed that local police stations "across the Maldives" had been attacked in the wake of Nasheed's claim that he was ousted in a coup.
Pro-Nasheed protesters had committed "atrocious acts of inhumane crimes" the statement said, citing "battery, assault and inflicting destruction of private possessions, trade outlets and government property."
"With the level of hostility detected in the current turmoil, it has also been feared that the ongoing protests by the former ruling party has steered towards acts of terrorism," it said.
A police mutiny that capped three weeks of anti-government protests was the tipping point that led to Nasheed's resignation on Tuesday.
The former president later said he had been the victim of a "coup", describing how armed police and soldiers had frogmarched him into his office and forced him to pen the formal announcement that he was stepping down.
Since then, Nasheed supporters and activists from his Maldivian Democratic Party have clashed with security forces in the capital Male and stormed police stations in a number of outlying atolls.
"Such terror filled in the hearts of law-abiding civilians is of deep concern," the police statement said, issuing a stern public warning to anyone obstructing the security forces.
"They should be warned that the police will not hesitate to use those powers vested upon them by the law," it said, adding that officers were ready to "sacrifice themselves" for the security of the country.
Officials contacted by AFP on three islands said in some cases mobs had ransacked police stations and looted, while in others officers had surrendered peacefully without any violence.Maldives names defence minister as violence spreads
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