The United Nations has demanded an investigation after a Maldives blogger, well-known for regularly lambasting the country's government over corruption and Islamists, was found murdered.

Yameen Rasheed, 29, was found in the stairwell of the apartment block where he lived in the capital Male on Sunday (23 April). He had been stabbed multiple times in the chest and neck.

A spokeswoman for Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, said an investigation into the murder must take place straight away.

"Mr Rasheed's killing comes in the context of what appears to be an upsurge in arrests and prosecutions of the political opposition," spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement published by al Jazeera.

"We remind the state that it has a duty to ensure that journalists, civil society actors and human rights defenders are able to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and opinion without fear for their safety," Shamdasani continued.

Rasheed ran a popular blog,, on which he highlighted alleged corruption in the country. He also demanded an investigation into the disappearance of journalist Ahmed Rilwan in 2014, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

Rasheed joins an increasing number of media figures apparently targeted over recent years.

In 2012 blogger Ismail Rasheed (no relation) was stabbed but survived. MP Afrasheem Ali was murdered the same year, which also saw a coup within the country.

A spokesman for President Abdulla Yameen, Ibrahim Muaz Ali, promised an investigation into the murder. "Actions of the government to avoid opportunity for unrest in the nation by keeping the youth from criminal acts and to build a peaceful society will continue," he said.

Though popular with holiday-makers, the Maldives has a turbulent history. Elections are due to take place in 2018 but many opposition figures are in jail. Up to 200 Maldives youths have joined ISIS, and youth unemployment remains rife.

A spokesman for the rival Maldivian Democratic party (MDP) said the island's police were incapable of mounting a proper investigation and called for international help.

"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." said the MDP.