Thousands of protesters calling for the ouster of Cambodian strongman Hun Sen braved a heavy clampdown Sunday and marched through the capital to cheers from Phnom Penh's citizens, who threw them food and honked car horns in support.
But as night fell, gunfire rang out near the U.S. Embassy, where many marchers ended up. At least one man was hit in the leg by several bullets. The gunfire appeared to come from ruling party supporters and police.Opposition supporters, who have faced a weeklong crackdown by police and mobs of armed supporters of Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party, set out Sunday from the American Embassy and opposition leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh's house.
Their numbers swelled from 200 to 3,000 as they marched up and down the city. Nervous-looking riot police armed with rifles and clubs let them pass.
Buddhist monks sprinkled the marchers with water and blessed them. Police had beaten several monks earlier in the week.
"The support for real democracy in Cambodia is growing and growing," said Un Kim Huot, 27, an English teacher. "But we need support from the United States, the father of democracy."
The protesters scattered when a monsoon storm broke.
Earlier, scattered violence broke out as a larger crowd of Hun Sen supporters armed with weapons poured through the city in a show of strength.
About 8,000 government supporters spent Saturday night in the city's main sports stadium, where the opposition had hoped to stage a mass peaceful rally Sunday but called it off over fears of bloodshed.
Hun Sen's supporters said they would stay until Sept. 24 to keep the opposition out until the first meeting of the new National Assembly. But by afternoon, most had cleared out of the city in trucks.