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Maldives curfew after day of riots

From CNN's Kasra Naji

President Gayoom has been in power since 1978.
President Gayoom has been in power since 1978.

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(CNN) -- After a day of violence, an overnight curfew has been imposed in Male, the capital of the Indian Ocean nation of Maldives.

Demonstrators set fire to police stations and attack government buildings.

The troubles began after prison riot Friday night, in which police shot dead at least one person and wounded several others.

Maldives is a tiny nation made up of 19 clusters of atolls. It is 650 kilometers (400 miles) southwest of Sri Lanka. The prison is on a different island from the capital.

Residents of Male, reached by telephone, said calm returned after armored police began patrolling the streets to reinforce a 10 p.m. Saturday to 4:30 a.m. Sunday curfew.

The curfew was imposed shortly after President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom went on national television to appeal for calm.

Demonstrators, enraged over the prison killing, accused police of brutality. Rioters Saturday set fire to at least three police stations and the election commission building and threw stones at parliament.

A number of cars were set on fire, according to residents.

Gayoom, who has been in power since 1978, has promised to set up an inquiry to examine the circumstances of the death of the prison inmate.

The fighting began as the country's elections commission announced that Gayoom is running for president again in October. It is not yet clear if the rioting could have been sparked by the announcement.

The president has presided over economic prosperity and growth, much of it based on a thriving tourism industry.

But residents say his rule has been accompanied by a good deal of political repression. In 1988, he survived an abortive coup.

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