Masked men set a fire that gutted the studio of a pro-opposition television station early on Monday in the second attack there in two years, the owner said.
About six men on motorbikes threatened and chased away a security guard before setting fire to the station, the owner Akram Kamaludeen said. Other offices in the building were also damaged. He said there was no evidence that pointed to a suspect.
Mr. Kamaludeen said President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s government and his allies have been upset with the station’s coverage. Last year, attackers broke into the building and cut cables, disrupting the station’s broadcasts.
The television station backs the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, and authorities have barred it from covering government events. “This is a dark day for press freedom in the Maldives,” said Mr. Kamaludeen, saying police did not protect the station despite prior threats and has not investigated the previous attack.
Police were patrolling the neighbourhood at the time of the attack and are investigating how the group broke in, said police spokesman Hassan Hanif.
The Maldives is facing political turmoil, with a court postponing a presidential runoff election that was expected to be favourable to MDP candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed.
Mr. Nasheed secured more than 45 percent of the first round votes on Sept. 7 but fell short of the 50 percent needed. A runoff between him and his closest rival Yaamin Abdul Qayyoom, brother of the country’s former autocrat, was postponed by the Supreme Court after the third—placed candidate alleged fraud in the first round.
The court is expected to decide whether to annul the first round election later on Monday.