Male: Anti-government protestors in Maldives demanding President Mohamad Nasheed to step down and a group supporting the regime clashed on the streets of the capital. Police had to use tear gas to try to control the violence.

The rampaging protestors damaged government buildings. Police arrested several protestors.

The protestors are mainly upset over the government's decision last month to allow the Maldivian currency, the Rufiyaa, to float against the US dollar. A sudden devaluation of the currency has resulted in higher prices for essential commodities most of which are imported.

Thousands of people gathered at a main crossroad in the capital Male for a third straight night on Monday for an overnight protest against the government inaction in controlling rising prices, alleged mismanagement and wasteful spending.

Clashes erupted after a group of government supporters attacked the protesters with rocks. Both sides then hurled rocks and bottles, prompting police to use tear gas to disperse them.

Police spokesman Ahmed Shiyam said, “It was not immediately known if people were injured. Later the protesters briefly gathered at a different location but police dispersed them again. Disgruntled protesters then started fires on the roads and attacked government buildings. Later, six protesters were arrested.”

Opposition spokesman Mohammed Shareef said that organizers called off the protests for the night after police dispersed them. He denied attacks on government buildings, blaming instead people with violent backgrounds who infiltrated the crowds.

Mohamad Nasheed was elected president in 2008 in the Maldives first multiparty election after 30 years of authoritarian rule by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is credited with developing the country into a popular tourist attraction.

Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago of 1,200 islets, has a Muslim population of around 300,000.