(Venezuela crisis) Anti-Maduro demo gathers momentum

World | 20 Apr 2017 7:15 pm

Venezuela's opposition is looking to keep up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro by taking to the streets again today hours after at least two people were killed and hundreds arrested in the biggest anti-government demonstrations in years. 

Tens of thousands of protesters demanding elections and denouncing what they consider increasingly dictatorial government were met by a curtain of tear gas and rubber bullets as they attempted to march to downtown Caracas on Wednesday. Dozens even had to slide down a concrete embankment and into the Guaire River to escape the noxious fumes. 

Across the country the clashes were intense. Pro-government militias, some of whose members were armed, were blamed for the two deaths, including that of a teenager in Caracas who was heading to a soccer game with friends. In several cities, protesters described being terrorized by militia members, some of them armed and circling the protesters in motorcycles. 

As night fell, a group of youths tore down signs and billboards to build barricades from which they threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at riot police. 

The two killings bring to seven the death toll since protests began three weeks ago over the Supreme Court's decision to strip the opposition-controlled congress of its last remaining powers, a move that was later reversed amid a storm of international criticism.-AP


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