Venezuela Ministry Torched By Protesters

Venezuela Ministry Torched By Protesters

Several people, including a young girl, have been rescued from Venezuela's Housing Ministry after it was set on fire by anti-government protesters.

The building in Caracas was engulfed in flames after the attack by opposition supporters angered when an opposition leader was tear-gassed as she tried to enter parliament.

Maria Corina Machado tried to march to the National Assembly to retake her seat after she was expelled for trying to speak before the Organisation of American States (OAS) about her country's political crisis.

President Nicolas Maduro's government has faced a wave of street protests, which have seen 39 people killed as the public vents anger over soaring crime, high inflation and shortages of essential goods.

Ms Machado - draped in a Venezuelan flag and holding a white rose to symbolise peace - got to within a street of the parliament and waved her ID card, but her path was blocked by police.

Backed by 22 opposition deputies, she shouted: "You will not break us! You will make us stronger! You will give us more reasons to fight!" and claimed that the block on her taking her seat was "proof that there is a dictatorship in Venezuela".

As police lobbed tear gas to break up the crowd, some protesters wearing gas masks threw the canisters back, while Ms Machado was led away with tears running down her face.

Venezuela's Supreme Court has backed assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello's decision to strip Ms Machado of her seat and immunity after she was accredited to Panama's delegation at the OAS - a Washington-based pan-American bloc.

In response to Ms Machado's vow to defy the order, Cabello said: "She is not going to enter. She is not a deputy."

Backing the decision, government supporters delivered a complaint to the attorney general Tuesday accusing Machado of "treason of the homeland."

Mr Maduro, the heir to Venezuela's long-term leader Hugo Chavez who died in 2013, has branded the recent protests a "fascist" US-backed plot to overthrow his government.