The body of Afrasheem Ali is taken to the cemetery from ADK hospital in Male on October 2, 2012.

Story highlights

Police are investigating the killing of a lawmaker early Tuesday

He is the first legislator to be assassinated in the island nation

The death comes amid a period of political turmoil in the Maldives

CNN  — 

A lawmaker in the Maldives has died after he was stabbed in the neck, authorities said Tuesday, the first legislator to be attacked and killed in the Indian Ocean country.

Police are investigating the stabbing early Tuesday of Afrashim Ali, a lawmaker for the Progressive Party of the Maldives, said Hassan Haneef, a police spokesman. He said the motive for the attack was so far unclear.

The killing comes during a period of political turmoil in the Maldives, an archipelago that attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

Trouble in paradise: Understanding Maldives’ political turmoil

The nation’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, and his supporters say he was forced from office in February in a coup. His successor, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, insists the transfer of power was legitimate.

Afrashim was “a very nice guy, a very gentle person,” said Ahmed Mahloof, another lawmaker for the Progressive Party who said he had seen his colleague’s body in hospital.

Maloof said Afrashim was believed to have been attacked as he returned home after appearing on a live television broadcast.

Waheed ordered Tuesday that the national flag be flown at half-staff until the end of Thursday.