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Cambodian police could be fired in death of vendor during protest

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Police who killed a rice vendor as they defied orders not to shoot at protesting garment workers could lose their jobs, a Cambodian police spokesman says.

Kirt Chantarith, a spokesman for the National Police, said the police commissioner had ordered police "just to use water and tear gas," The Phnom Penh Post reported Wednesday.

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When Chantarith was asked if the officers could face criminal charges, his phone went dead.

Eng Sokhom, 49, was killed and six other people wounded Tuesday when police fired on 600 striking garment workers in Phnom Penh's Meanchey district as protesters attempted to march to the home of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Some 27 police and military police were injured in the clash, the National Police said in a statement. Two police cars and two police motorbikes were set on fire.

Buth Bunchhean, a member of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said his union would launch its own investigation.

A statement by the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee said there was "clear evidence" Police Chief Gen. Chuon Sovann ordered police to use violence against demonstrators.

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U.N. officials reported police arrested 37 people in the violence, including seven monks.

The clashes occurred on the three-month anniversary of a strike by 5,000 workers at SL Garment Processing (Cambodia).

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