A government security force member, in black clothes, beats a protester outside Freedom Park as other protesters run away in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday. Pic: AP.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Security forces have beaten demonstrators after a May Day rally held in defiance of a government ban on public protests in the Cambodian capital.

Witnesses said civilian auxiliary police, who are armed with clubs and often used by the government to break up protests, attacked demonstrators after opposition leaders had spoken to the crowd and left the rally site.

Nearly 1,000 factory workers and supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party had gathered on the streets outside the city’s Freedom Park, which had been barred to demonstrators and sealed off.

A ban on demonstrations has been in place since January, following numerous labor protests for a higher minimum wage and opposition demonstrations denouncing last July’s general election as rigged.

There was no immediate word on casualties.