AFP – Police fired smoke grenades, tear gas and water cannon at Cambodian opposition supporters on Sunday, a rights group said, as protesters massed in the capital in a renewed bid to overturn premier Hun Sen’s disputed election win.
The clash, which occurred near the Royal Palace as a group of around 200 protesters tried to storm a police barricade, has heightened tensions as an estimated 20,000 demonstrators gather in Phnom Penh to press for an independent probe into alleged massive voter fraud.
The planned three-day rally in the city’s Democracy Park follows a rare meeting between Cambodian national Rescue Party opposition chief Sam Rainsy and the strongman prime minister to break the political paralysis gripping the kingdom since July’s poll.
“Today’s clash… goes to show that tensions are running extremely high and that there is a risk of elevated violence over the next two days,” Ou Virak, president of the prominent Cambodian Center for Human Rights said in a statement.
The group confirmed earlier eyewitness reports that authorities deployed tear gas, smoke bombs and water cannon to break up the crowd near the palace, adding three protesters and one policeman were injured without giving further details.