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NAGA CITY, Philippines ? An activist was shot dead and three ralliers were injured in Daet, Camarines Norte, at a rally commemorating International Human Rights Day. The ralliers blamed policemen and soldiers for the shooting, but police said a masked gunman hit Edmundo Salcedo of the Peasant Movement of the Philippines as he fired randomly at the crowd.

The victims were among 600 demonstrators marching down the street en route to the Camarines Norte provincial police headquarters.

Those wounded were Eduardo Ordinario, Arsenio Paylan, and Angelo de Luna.

Erick Torrecampo of Bayan-Bicol said the ralliers were protesting the series of human rights violations by the police and the military when they were intercepted.

But provincial police chief Efren Yebra said the gunman fired at least three times, hitting Salcedo in the head. He then escaped on foot.

Militants suspected the gunman was an agent of the military, which has been blamed by Karapatan for the deaths of 56 suspected communist rebel supporters and human-rights workers since 2001 in the Bicol region.

Military officials have accused some human rights organizations and Left-wing activists of being clandestine supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military arm, the New People's Army. But the groups have routinely denied any links to the rebels.

Protesters tried to chase the gunman. During a mel?e, unidentified men also allegedly tried to abduct Beverly Quintillan, the regional Bayan spokeswoman.

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