Riot police trying to put down a third day of protests against Ethiopia's disputed elections shot and killed three people Thursday and wounded 12 others, including children, doctors said.

State-run television, quoting federal police, said two people were killed.

The renewed violence came a day after police shot and killed at least 31 people -- a death toll that rose after eight people died overnight Wednesday and in surgery, said doctors who declined to give their names for fear of reprisals.

The government has said the casualty figure was exaggerated and blamed the opposition for the violence.

The violence erupted over disputed May 15 elections that gave Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front control of nearly two-thirds of parliament. Opposition parties have accused the ruling party of rigging the elections.

Diplomats are concerned that Ethiopia might resume a war with Eritrea, its longtime rival, as a way to rally domestic support. The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because they feared straining relations with the governments, said Eritrea also faced rising internal opposition and might welcome the distraction of war. Tens of thousands of people died in the war, which lasted from 1998 to 2000.

Maj. Gen. Rajender Singh, the top U.N. peacekeeper in the region, said Thursday that both sides have moved troops and military hardware closer to the border in the past 10 days.

Ethiopia refuses to implement a 2002 international ruling on the border and has called for negotiations. Eritrea refuses to talk unless Ethiopia accepts the ruling.