PHNOM PENH: A makeshift bomb was discovered Friday near Cambodia's parliament, police said, adding to tensions in the capital ahead of fresh planned protests over Prime Minister Hun Sen's disputed election win.
Bomb experts carried out a controlled explosion of the device -- made from TNT powder in a 10-litre plastic container -- causing a blast that shook nearby buildings, military police spokesman Kheng Tito told AFP.
Three M79 grenades were also found close to Democracy Park, the location of opposition protests against the results of hotly disputed elections held in July.
No arrests have been made in connection with the incidents, which come against a backdrop of political friction in Phnom Penh.
"These devices were planted in order to cause insecurity, chaos and to intimidate people," Kheng Tito said.
A spokesman for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Yim Sovann, said that the explosive devices were planted "by powerful and ill-intentioned people to intimidate the voters, the people, and especially demonstrators."
Last Saturday about 20,000 demonstrators gathered in Democracy Park to demand a probe into allegations that voter fraud denied the opposition victory in July's election.
The opposition plans further mass protests on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, although the interior ministry said in a statement late Thursday that only the first day's rally would be allowed to go ahead.
According to final election results released by the NEC on Sunday, Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won 68 seats in the July polls against 55 for the opposition.
The CNRP has rejected the result, alleging widespread vote rigging, but so far its efforts to challenge the results have failed and it has few options left in its bid to overturn Hun Sen's victory.
In an attempt to end the dispute, Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni late Thursday invited Hun Sen and CNRP leader Sam Rainsy to a rare meeting in the royal palace on Saturday.
"It's a step forward. As long as there are talks, there will be a solution," Yim Sovann said.
But he declined to speculate on whether a deal could be reached on Saturday.
Cambodian political analyst Chea Vannath said this weekend's planned protests might be called off if the ruling and opposition parties manage to narrow their differences.
"We have some hope that they can resolve the dispute to some extent or the problem can be completely resolved," she said.
But additional meetings between the rivals might be needed to completely settle the dispute, she added.
Hun Sen, 61, has been in power for 28 years and has vowed to rule until he is 74.
A former Khmer Rouge cadre who defected and oversaw Cambodia's rise from the ashes of war, his government is regularly accused of ignoring human rights and suppressing political dissent.