Cambodia rivals to meet after protest bloodshed

 Cambodia rivals to meet after protest bloodshed

PHNOM PENH - Cambodia's political rivals were set to hold fresh crisis talks Monday as crowds massed for a second day to protest a disputed election, following violence that left one demonstrator dead and several wounded.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy were due to meet at 9.00am (0200 GMT) at the National Assembly in search of a way out of the political standoff triggered by July polls marred by allegations of electoral fraud.

The talks follow violent clashes in the capital Phnom Penh on Sunday on the fringes of a mass demonstration that drew an estimated 20,000 opposition supporters demanding an independent probe into the vote.

Security forces fired smoke grenades, tear gas and water cannon at rock-throwing protesters.

One demonstrator was killed, according to several witnesses including prominent activist Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

"I saw with my own eyes he is dead. He was shot in the head," Ou Virak told AFP, adding that while military police had fired "many shots" into the air, the circumstances of the man's death remained unclear.

At least 10 other protesters were injured, Ou Virak said.

"I urge the authorities to ensure that this tragedy is an isolated incident," he said, appealing to both the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) and authorities to calm the situation.

Military police spokesman Kheng Tito denied the security forces had fired live ammunition.

"The military police used only batons and shields and police used tear gas. We did not use live rounds," he said late Sunday.

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