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Shots fired at Rainsy protest

Shots fired at Rainsy protest

P

OLICE fired shot near the U.S. Embassy and arrested two demonstrators as opposition

leader Sam Rainsy led a march through Phnom Penh on Wednesday to protest the visit

of Burmese leader General Than Shwe.

In what Sam Rainsy called a game of guerrilla warfare, hundreds of police pursued

the several dozen fleet-footed protesters through the streets, hastily setting up

road blocks in a vain attempt to thwart the hour-long demonstration.

No one was seriously injured, but witnesses said one of the demonstrators was beaten

and reporters were manhandled. A police official said two policemen were injured

when a protester's car struck them at a barricade.

Sam Rainsy issued a statement that his driver, Pin Piseth, and a bodyguard, Hann

Mane, were both arrested. He told reporters that one of the men was beaten and the

front lights of the car he drove were smashed.

But Mok Chito, director of the penal police, said only the driver had been arrested.

He said the driver had run over two government soldiers standing at a barricade,

breaking the leg of one and slightly injuring another in the arm.

Prime Minister Than Shwe and an entourage of high-level Burmese officials arrived

at Phnom Penh's Pochentong Airport to a royal welcome one hour after the protest

concluded.

As the demonstrators approached the U.S. Embassy to speak with Ambassador Kenneth

Quinn, one policeman near the rear of the crowd released a burst of gunfire in the

air to try to halt them.

A second policeman, looking panicked as protesters pushed forward past him, fired

a second burst in front of the Embassy.

As demonstrators waved signs reading Burmese democratic leader "Aung San Suu

Kyi is a model for Asia" and "Long live the NLD (Suu Kyi's National League

for Democracy)," Sam Rainsy entered the embassy and briefly spoke to the ambassador,

witnesses said.

"We wanted to express our gratitude to the American people and the American

government for their continued support to the pro-democracy movements in Burma and

in Cambodia," Sam Rainsy later told reporters.

He said Quinn had told him U.S. officials would not greet Than Shwe at the airport.

Ambassadors from three European countries, Germany, France and Britain, were introduced

to Than Shwe on his arrival. One of the diplomats said, "We are not too keen

on this."

Than Shwe, who was accompanied by powerful military chief Khin Nyunt and his foreign

and tourism ministers, was greeted by King Norodom Sihanouk and co-Premiers Prince

Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen as he stepped off a Myanmar Airways airplane.

Prince Ranariddh told reporters at the airport that he would not comment on the demonstrations

until after Than Shwe's four-day visit had ended, only saying that he had ordered

no shots to be fired at the demonstration.

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