PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- A Cambodian labor leader affiliated with the country's main opposition party was shot to death on a street yesterday, the latest in a series of suspected political killings of critics of the ruling party.
Chea Vichea, president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, was shot at least twice in the chest at a newsstand, said Va Sothy, who owned the business.
"There were two assailants. One was waiting on a motorcycle and the other walked toward him and shot him two or three times" from a distance of 2 feet, she said.
Chea Vichea, 39, helped organize unions at garment factories and negotiate labor disputes. He was closely associated with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party and was frequently seen at the party's Phnom Penh headquarters.
At least three members of the Sam Rainsy Party were killed in two separate attacks in recent weeks. The US Embassy said it was "shocked and saddened," and urged the government to conduct "an effective investigation to bring the perpetrators . . . to justice."
Acts of violence "imperil the rights of all Cambodians and jeopardize progress toward a more peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Cambodia," an embassy statement said.
Sam Rainsy, leader of his self-named party, said the slain labor leader was a strong human rights advocate. He said Chea Vichea was a founding member of his party eight years ago, and left it to form the first free trade union in Cambodia.