At least two protesters were killed on Wednesday in Venezuela as clashes broke out on the sidelines of a mass anti-government rally that the opposition billed “the mother of all marches”.
A teenager was fatally shot in the head in a neighbourhood of Caracas, and a woman killed in gunfire during a rally in the Andean state of Tachira near the Colombian border.
The deaths mean seven people have now been killed during protests in Venezuela this month. The opposition blames the deaths on security forces and alleged paramilitary groups.
The protests turned violent when youths throwing rocks clashed with security forces spraying tear gas.
Caracas, Venezuela earlier today. At least two dead during mass protests. Maduro acuses the US government of plotting a “coup attempt”. #19A pic.twitter.com/db9CH6dkhz— Enrique Acevedo (@Enrique_Acevedo) April 19, 2017
Despite the scuffles, Wednesday’s rallies were largely peaceful and drew hundreds of thousands of people.
The protesters accuse President Nicolas Maduro of plunging the economy into chaos and resorting to dictatorial measures to quash public unrest.
“We are writing a new page in history,” said Miguel Pizarro, an opposition congressman.
“Let’s not let anything make us think it’s impossible. We are the majority. We are many more. And we will change this country, whether they like it or not.”
Maduro says the opposition is trying to topple his Socialist government, and he got his supporters to hold a counter-demonstration, also in Caracas.
The rival marches carried echoes of the clashes between pro and anti-government protesters that triggered a brief coup against late president Hugo Chavez in 2002.
Venezuela: Police firing teargas against a fleeing crowd in Caracas. People vomiting on the street from the gas. I saw several people hurt. pic.twitter.com/RXfZrbZOAP— lotten collin (@lottencollin) April 19, 2017