The Latest on turmoil in the Maldives after a Supreme Court ruling ordered the release of political prisoners (all times local):

9:15 a.m.

The U.S. ambassador to the Maldives has welcomed the Supreme Court ruling ordering the release of political prisoners, including exiled ex-President Mohamed Nasheed.

Ambassador Atul Keshap wrote on Twitter: "I urge the government and security services to respect this ruling, which bolsters democracy and rule of law for all Maldivians."

Clashes broke out in Male, the capital of the Indian Ocean island nation, after the court ruling was announced Thursday night with opposition protesters demanding the release of the prisoners.

The ruling could allow Nasheed, the nation's first democratically elected president, to challenge President Yameen Abdul Gayoom when he seeks re-election later this year. Nasheed now lives in exile in Britain.