Liberal Maldives blogger stabbed to death

(Reuters) - A prominent Maldivian blogger, who was critical of Islamist extremism and government corruption, was stabbed to death on Sunday, police said, and the main opposition party demanded an international probe into the killing.

Social media activist Yameen Rasheed was stabbed 14 times in the chest and once each in the neck and face, local media reported.

“He was stabbed to death early in the morning and we are investigating the matter,” police spokesman Ahmed Shifan said.

The government in a statement condemned the killing and said President Abdulla Yameen had instructed state agencies to bring the perpetrators of “this heinous act to justice”.

Significant numbers of radicalised Maldives youths have enlisted to fight for Islamic State in the Middle East. Three Western diplomats told Reuters that moderate Islamists have been threatened via social media for their “anti-Islamic” views.

Rasheed had received death threats, mainly after he posted criticism of radical Islam, his close friends told Reuters.

The 29-year-old blogger worked as a computer programmer and software developer at the Maldives Stock Exchange and identified himself as “disobedient writer” in social media. He ran a website called The Daily Panic.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), in a statement, called for an international investigation into Rasheed’s death as the incident followed a “spate of similar stabbings of prominent politicians and political commentators”.

“The MDP strongly believes that the Maldivian police service does not possess the capacity, credibility or political impartiality to conduct such a high-profile investigation on its own.”

Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Dale Hudson