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Three dead in Cambodia as police fire on protesters

At least three people have died after Cambodian police opened fire on protesting garment workers in the capital, Phnom Penh. The protest comes amid opposition calls for the prime minister to step down.

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Police fire on workers

Cambodian police on Friday fired on garment workers protesting for a higher minimum wage, killing at least three people and injuring several others, police say.

Phnom Penh deputy police commissioner Chuon Narin said the three were killed and two others wounded when police shot at several hundred workers blocking a road south of the capital. He said the protesters had burnt tires and thrown objects at police.

An activist from the local human rights group Adhoc said as many as 10 of the protesters were badly injured.

Workers at most of the country's more than 500 garment factories are currently on strike, demanding a doubling of their minimum wage to $160 (117 euros) a month. The government is offering $100.

Political unrest

Friday's confrontation came a day after another violent clash between police and protesters at a different location in which elite troops moved in and injured at least 10 people.

Cambodia's multi-billion-dollar garment industry, which employs about 650,000 people, is an economic mainstay of the impoverished country. In 2012, the Southeast Asian country exported more than $4 billion (2.93 billion euros) worth of products to the United States and Europe.

The strikes and violence come as Prime Minister Hun Sen comes under increasing pressure from protesters and the opposition to step down over alleged election fraud. He has been accused by opponents of rigging the vote at elections last July that extended his 28-year rule.

The poor conditions for workers in the garment industry across many countries in Asia have come into to the spotlight in recent years because of a number of disasters in factories manufacturing clothing mainly for Western retailers. In April 2013, a factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than a thousand people.

tj/jlw (AP, AFP, dpa)

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