Masked men attack Maldives pro-opposition TV station

Fire crews battle to control the flames

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A pro-opposition television station in the Maldives has been attacked by masked men who set fire to its studios.

The attack on Raajje TV took place before dawn and destroyed its broadcast and transmission equipment and computer systems.

A security guard is in a critical condition after being stabbed.

The station is known to support former President Mohamed Nasheed, who was forced from office last year in what he said was a coup.

The attack took place at a time of heightened political tensions after a Supreme Court order postponed the run-off round of the presidential election last month.

It has been considering a petition from one of the losing candidates who alleges there were irregularities in the first round.

Mr Nasheed won 45% of the vote and his supporters say he was poised to win the run-off.

There have been attacks on Raajje TV before - last year unidentified assailants cut its broadcasting cables, and eight months ago its head of news was severely beaten.

The new arson attack has been condemned by ex-president Nasheed and by the running mate of the second-placed candidate in the election's first round.

The United Stations mission to the Maldives also expressed concern about what it called an "upsurge in political violence".

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