Maldives MP stabbed to death outside his home

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Police say they are unable to establish a motive

A member of the Maldives parliament has been stabbed to death near his home.

Dr Afrasheem Ali - whose party is a member of the governing coalition in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation - was attacked early on Tuesday.

His murder comes at a time of political turmoil. On Monday, the trial of the former president had to be postponed after he defied a court order and left the capital by boat.

Police say they are yet to establish a motive for the killing.

President Mohamed Waheed called it a "remorseless and foul act" and the president's media secretary sent out a text describing the murdered MP as the "strongest critic" of ex-President Mohamed Nasheed.

Diplomatic sources said, however, that they did not know of any animosity between Mr Nasheed and the victim, reports the BBC's Charles Haviland in Male.

The Maldives is deeply politically polarised. Police commissioner Abdullah Riyaz said no-one should blame anyone else, and all should show restraint.

UN tribute

The mood in the capital, Male, has been sombre, our correspondent reports. At the cemetery where Dr Ali was buried, seven members of the military fired shots in his honour in the presence of hundreds of Maldivians.

The UN paid tribute to him as an accomplished scholar. Colleagues and friends said he was a key proponent of moderate stances in Islamic observance, defending the right of believers to enjoy music or not to wear beards, our correspondent says.

Dr Ali was found dead by his wife outside their block of flats, having been stabbed four times in the back of the head and with wounds to his chest and neck.

He belonged to the party of another former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoon, who ruled the Maldives for 30 years from 1978.

The United Nations joined politicians from the Maldives in condemning the murder.

Mr Nasheed, who defeated Mr Gayoon in the country's first democratic elections, says charges against him relating to alleged abuse of power are politically motivated.

His supporters hail him as a reformist moderate but his critics say he overreached his powers while in office.

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