Cambodia garment workers killed in clashes with police

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Protesters wait for police behind a barricade on 3 January 2014 in Phnom Penh, CambodiaImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The workers have set up barricades as part of their protest

Police have opened fire on striking Cambodian garment workers, killing three and injuring several more.

Shots were fired on Friday after the workers blocked a road south of the capital, Phnom Penh, and clashed with the police, eyewitnesses said.

The textile workers have been protesting and demanding the minimum wage be doubled.

Cambodia has around 500,000 workers in the garment industry, which is a key source of national income.

The workers are demanding a minimum wage of $160 (£97) a month. The government has offered an increase to around $100 (£60).

Chan Soveth, an activist from rights group Adhoc, told AFP news agency that security forces "used rifles and other things to crack down on the strikers" at Friday's protest.

Media caption,

Footage showed striking garment workers on the streets

Military police spokesman Kheng Tito told AFP that the police cracked down on protesters after nine policemen were injured in the clashes.

"We were afraid about the security so we had to crack down on them... If we allow them to continue the strike it will become anarchy," he said.

Two protesters had been arrested, he added.

Media caption,

Anna McMullen, Labour Behind The Label: 'Unsurprisingly there's a lot of unrest'

On Thursday, Cambodian soldiers broke up another protest by striking garment workers, with witnesses saying some protesters were hurt.

The industrial action comes after the government faced weeks of protests demanding Prime Minister Hun Sen step down.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) has led rallies and strikes calling for a new election and alleging vote fraud in the last election. In recent weeks, they have been joined by the garment workers.