police and Monk in cambodia

Police say the monks brought stones to use as missiles

Buddhist monks and riot police have been involved in a violent confrontation in Cambodia's capital.

The monks were trying to draw attention to allegations of mistreatment of the Kampuchea Krom minority, who are ethnic Cambodians living in Vietnam.

They were attempting to deliver a petition to the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh when police officers

blocked their way.

Human rights workers claim the police beat the monks with batons.

The violence started after about 50 orange-robed monks arrived at the Vietnamese Embassy and staged a sit-down protest.

The situation deteriorated as riot police ordered the monks to move on.

The authorities allege that the monks tried to storm the embassy and had brought stones to throw at the police.

Several members of each side were injured, none of them seriously.

Sensitive topic

The monks had been protesting about the treatment of ethnic Cambodian colleagues in Vietnam.

Their petition asked for the release of a monk who has been jailed on charges of "undermining national unity".

They also demanded the return of Vietnamese territory which they claimed belonged to Cambodia.

It is a sensitive topic for the Cambodian government.

Its links with Vietnam date back to 1979 when Vietnamese-backed troops ousted the Khmer Rouge from power.

But many Cambodians dislike their larger neighbour and resent the loss of territory over the years, which includes modern day Ho Chi Minh City.

The monks were protesting against Vietnam's arrest earlier this year of a Cambodian monk Tim Sakhorn. According to a petition at the petition online site, Tim Sakhorn was arrested by Cambodian authorities on June 30 for allegedly for “conducting activities that are harmful to the Cambodia-Vietnam friendship.”. The monk was defrocked and after which his whereabouts were not known. In August the Vietnamese authorities announced that they have arrested Tim Sakhorn for activities that undermine Vietnam's unity.

The monks also want Vietnam to return the Cambodian land that they claim Vietnam occupied in the past. The fight with the police broke out when the monks were heading to the Vietnamese Embassy to drop of a petition.

Head of state: King Norodom Sihamoni

The son of former king Norodom Sihanouk, King Sihamoni was sworn in as monarch on 29 October 2004. The former king had abdicated because of poor health.
Born in 1953, he studied in Czechoslovakia. He left Cambodia for France after the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979. He is a trained classical ballet dancer.

Cambodia's kings once enjoyed a semi-divine status; today, the monarch's role is mainly ceremonial.

Prime minister: Hun Sen

Hun Sen, one of the world's longest-serving prime ministers, has been in power in various coalitions since 1985.
He was re-elected by parliament in July 2004 after nearly a year of political stalemate. His Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won general elections in 2003, but without enough seats for it to rule alone.
It finally struck a deal with the royalist Funcinpec party, which at the time was led by Prince Norodom Ranariddh, in June 2004.
Hun Sen is no stranger to controversy. He seized power from his then co-prime minister, Prince Ranariddh, in 1997. More recently, some Western countries have said his rule has become increasingly authoritarian.
Born in 1952, Hun Sen joined the Communist Party in the late 1960s and, for a time, was a member of the Khmer Rouge. He has denied accusations that he was once a top official within the movement, saying he was only an ordinary soldier.

During the Pol Pot regime in the late 1970s he joined anti-Khmer Rouge forces based in Vietnam.