US urges 'restraint' in Cambodia after violence

WASHINGTON - The United States on Friday appealed for peaceful dialogue and denounced violence in Cambodia after police opened fire on protesting garment workers, killing three people.

"The United States deeply regrets the recent loss of life in Cambodia during violent clashes between protesters and government security forces," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.

"We condemn violence as a means to achieve political or other objectives and urge all sides to exercise maximum restraint and show respect for the rule of law," Harf said.

The deaths in Cambodia followed clashes between striking workers armed with sticks, rocks and Molotov cocktails and police in the Veng Sreng factory district of Phnom Penh.

Human rights advocates called the crackdown the country's worst state violence against civilians in more than a decade.

"We have urged workers unions and the government to work together towards a peaceful resolution of labour disagreements," Harf said.

US diplomats were holding discussions with government, businesses and workers organisations, she added.

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