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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Cambodian pop star shot in face

By Kylie Morris
BBC South East Asia correspondent

A Cambodian pop star with ties to one of the country's political parties is fighting for her life in a hospital in the Thai capital Bangkok.

Touch Sunnich was evacuated to Thailand on Wednesday, after she was shot in the face by four men on motorbikes.

King Norodom Sihanouk
King Sihanouk has condemned the shooting
The attempted assassination of the singer led students to hold impromptu vigils in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

Touch Sunnich is closely identified with the royalist FUNCINPEC party, mainly through her rendition of its party song.

That, together with her other hits, are now being broadcast back to back by the party-controlled station in the capital.

The Cambodian king, Norodom Sihanouk, has expressed his deep sadness at the attack on the singer, who had on occasion entertained his royal guests.

Her 62-year-old mother was killed when the assassins opened fire as the two women were getting into a car after a shopping trip in the city.

The king condemned the attack, lamenting the death of Touch Sunnich's mother and the attempt to destroy the singer's beautiful face.

Observers have linked the shooting of the singer to the assassination last Saturday of another public figure associated with FUNCINPEC.

The radio journalist, Chou Chetharith, was shot in the head in broad daylight.

He worked for the party station in Phnom Penh, the director of which is a FUNCINPEC adviser.

The station is known for its critical reporting of Cambodian prime minister, Hun Sen, who had accused it of insulting his party.

But a spokesman for the ruling party said the two attacks may have been a politically motivated attempt to besmirch the government.

Regardless of the identify of the perpetrators, the killings represent a deepening of Cambodia's political crisis.

It is almost three months since elections were held.

But the ruling party is still seeking a coalition partner in order for it to form a new government.

Opposition groups in turn are demanding a tripartite government without Hun Sen as leader.

Crisis talks which were scheduled this week have been postponed indefinitely in the wake of the attacks.

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