At least four people have been killed outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia, after police opened fire to break up a protest by striking garment workers demanding a doubling of the minimum wage, police and human rights workers have said.
Chuon Narin, deputy chief of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police, said four people were killed and about 20 wounded in a southern suburb of the capital after several hundred workers blocking a road began burning tyres and throwing objects at police officers.
Witnesses said some officers fired AK-47 rifles into the air and that others shot at ground level.
Workers at most of Cambodia's more than 500 garment factories are on strike, demanding a rise in the minimum wage to $160 (€117) a month, double the current rate. The government has offered $100 a month.
The local human rights group LICADHO said in a statement that at least four civilians were shot dead and 21 injured in what it described as "the worst state violence against civilians to hit Cambodia in 15 years".
"The use of live ammunition was prolonged and no efforts appear to have been made to prevent death and serious injury," it said. "Reports suggest that security forces were also injured after being hit with stones."
It was not clear whether victims were workers or local residents. The workers represent a potent political force, as the garment industry is Cambodia's biggest export earner, employing about 500,000 people. In 2012, it shipped $4bn worth of products to the US and Europe.