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Cambodian police open fire on protesters

PHNOM PENH--Cambodian police opened fire on protesting garment workers Friday, killing at least three people, as the kingdom's strongman premier faced growing public anger on the streets of the capital.

Human rights campaigners condemned the crackdown as the country's worst state violence against civilians in more than a decade.

The deaths came after striking workers armed with sticks, rocks and Molotov cocktails clashed with rifle-wielding police in the Veng Sreng factory district of Phnom Penh.

One blood-soaked worker was seen lying on the ground while another was rushed away by motorcycle after the latest in a series of violent clashes between security forces and textile workers demanding higher wages.

Three people died, according to police.

“If we allow them to continue the strike it will become anarchy,” said military police spokesman Kheng Tito, adding that nine policemen were injured by stones and slingshots.

The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights reported a higher toll of at least four civilians shot dead and 21 injured, in what it described as “the worst state violence against civilians to hit Cambodia in 15 years.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen faces a growing challenge to his nearly three-decade rule from protesting garment workers and opposition supporters demanding that he step down and call a new election because of alleged vote fraud.

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Garment workers throw objects at riot police during a strike near a Canadia Center factory at the Stung Meanchey complex on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Friday, Jan. 3. (AP)

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